By Sana Das
RECENTLY, A Gujarat sessions court rejected a 13-year-old rape victimâ€™s plea for abortion, saying there was no evidence to show that her â€śhealthâ€ť would suffer because of the pregnancy. The girl, daughter of labourer parents, was raped by her neighbour-employer to whose house she had been sent for work. After being refused an abortion by a local doctor, the girl approached the sessions court under the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. She has now been forced to appeal to the Gujarat High Court.
The sessions court verdict raises two vexing questions: one, regarding the medico-legal treatment that forefronts a debate between pro-life and pro-choice views on abortion, and two, the totally overlooked issues of childhood and adolescence that are at stake here.
Why was the girlâ€™s â€śhealthâ€ť the only ground on which the court gave its judgment when, read closely, the regulation of abortion by the MTP Act, seems governed by two factors â€” consent of the woman and her health?