The legal bar for termination of pregnancy, except in the rarest of rare cases, is 20 weeks
In an extremely rare move, doctors at Mumbai's JJ Hospital today conducted a caesarean section surgery on a 31-week pregnant teenage rape survivor after the Supreme Court gave the go ahead. The 13-year-old girl and the child are fine, doctors said.
"After the Supreme Court order the girl came to us. We investigated and found she was fit to undergo termination of pregnancy by caesarean section and today afternoon we terminated the pregnancy," Dr Ashok Anand, the head of the Gynecology department at JJ Hospital, told NDTV.
The baby, who is in intensive neonatal care, will be put up for adoption, the hospital said.
The case has set a legal and medical precedent as this is the first time the Supreme Court has allowed a termination of pregnancy at such a later stage of 31 weeks. The legal bar currently, except in the rarest of rare cases, is 20 weeks.
"How can a 13-year-old become a mother?" Chief Justice Deepak Misra had observed before passing this landmark order.
Advocate Sneha Mukherjee, who argued the 13-year-old's case, told NDTV, "It will her take a lot of time to recover from the trauma but this comes as a big relief. Expecting a 13-year-old girl to bear a child is just unimaginable."
The girl, who was allegedly raped by a man who helped her father run his roadside stall, realized she was pregnant only when her stomach bulged as the pregnancy matured. The accused was arrested after a complaint was filed at the Charkop Police Station in suburban Mumbai. Last month, her parents took her to a doctor suspecting that her sudden obesity was caused by thyroid but realized that she was 27 weeks pregnant after a sonography. After this they approached the police and a case was registered.
The top court order also sets an important precedent for victims of sexual abuse like this young girl.
Dr Nikhil Datar, a Mumbai based gynecologist who took her case to court and is helping six patients with their abortion pleas, says terminations are becoming safer with technology. "There are higher chances of the mother developing complications as the term goes on so doing a delivery or a c-section is definitely a lower risk," he said.