New Delhi, July 22: A lawyer has petitioned the Supreme Court to allow a 10-year-old "rape survivor" in her 26th week of pregnancy to abort the foetus "in the interest of justice, equity and good conscience".
Indian law bans abortions beyond 20 weeks unless there's an immediate threat to the would-be mother's life.
Alakh Alok Srivastava's petition, which is yet to be listed for hearing, says the girl's uncle had repeatedly raped her and that her pregnancy "has left many medical experts dumbfounded" because of her age. It adds that the girl's doctors have said her pelvic bones are not fully developed because of her age and, therefore, "tolerating a full-term pregnancy at this tender age is very risky".
Currently, a grave risk to the pregnant woman's health (but not to her life) is not deemed sufficient to overrule the 20-week ceiling. A petition challenging the constitutional validity of the ceiling is pending before the apex court.
Srivastava's petition says that Dr Umesh Jindal, gynaecologist and member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, has advised that the "peculiar facts and circumstances" of the case suggest the girl should undergo an abortion to save her life.
It adds that the girl's parents are poor and that the district court in Chandigarh, where they live, had on July 18 rejected their petition seeking permission for abortion.
Srivastava has urged the apex court to direct the Union health ministry and other departments concerned to bring the girl to Delhi and get her examined by a medical board, preferably formed with doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
He has also demanded an amendment to Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, allowing abortions beyond 20 weeks in exceptional cases, particularly those involving child rape survivors, after obtaining opinion from appropriate medical boards.
Srivastava has further requested the court to frame guidelines for the establishment of permanent medical boards in every district to facilitate quick decisions on abortions beyond 20 weeks and the arrangement of the best possible medical facilities.
Kul Bahadur, the girl's maternal uncle, is accused of raping her repeatedly over seven months. Her parents took her to hospital after she complained of stomach pain. An FIR has been registered.