Supreme Court says 24-week pregnant teen can abort if doctors permit

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Issuing a ‘flexible’ order, the Supreme Court on Tuesday left it to doctors to decide if a girl could be allowed abortion after 20 weeks. The decision was made while the court was hearing the plea of a 14-year-old rape victim, who sought its permission for termination of her pregnancy after 24 weeks.

Currently, the law in India allows abortion only up to 20 weeks.

The court has now left it to doctors and a psychologist to decide if termination of pregnancy was in the interest of the girl’s life.

“We have the interest of the girl in our mind. But we also know there is a life inside her. We want to do something for her and that is why we are contemplating a way out. There is a reason why we have included a clinical psychologist in the panel. The girl’s mental health will also be considered,” said a bench of Justices Anil R Dave and Kurian Joseph.

A doctor, who on July 25 opined that the abortion could result in severe medical complications of the girl, will be included in the panel of medical experts, besides three senior gynecologists of the civil hospital in Ahmedabad.

Last week, a Gujarat court had denied late-term abortion to the 14-year-old girl after she was allegedly raped by a doctor.

“It did not ask to be born… The child is innocent, just like the victim, its mother,” the Gujarat High Court said on Thursday, while rejecting the girl’s father’s petition on this matter.

The court also noted that India’s abortion law does not allow termination of pregnancy after 20 weeks, or five months.

The father’s petition had alleged that the girl had become pregnant in February after she visited the doctor, who injected her with sedatives and then raped her. The police had then arrested the doctor.

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