Kerala HC authorizes 15-week abortion and pregnancy of mentally disturbed rape victim

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The High Court authorized the Government Mental Health Center and Sree Avittom Thirunal Hospital, both located in Thiruvananthapuram, to perform a medical termination of pregnancy.

Assuming the role of “parens patriae” or legal protector of citizens, the High Court of Kerala authorized the termination of a pregnancy of more than 15 weeks of a rape victim suffering from mental disorder on the grounds that it was in her best interests as she was unable to make an informed decision on her own. The High Court authorized the Government Mental Health Center and Sree Avittom Thirunal Hospital, both located in Thiruvananthapuram, to perform a medical termination of pregnancy.

Hospitals have also been ordered to remove fetal tissue and save it for DNA testing, as the woman, from Bihar, was raped.

Judge PB Suresh Kumar made the decision based on the report of a medical commission which, after examining the woman, found that although the continuation of the pregnancy did not endanger the life of the victim, there are was at high risk for mother and baby because she was taking multiple antipsychotic medications.

A certificate issued by the medical commission attached to the Mental Health Center also stated that the victim suffered from mental retardation with psychosis and was unable to make decisions or communicate his opinion, the court noted in its order. .

“In view of the fact that the person involved in the case is a rape victim and in view of the opinion of the medical board, I am of the opinion that in a case of this nature it is in the best interests of the person concerned to allow the termination of her pregnancy, “said the judge.

The case was brought to the court’s attention by the Kerala State Legal Services Authority, which had espoused the case of an unfortunate rape victim diagnosed with psychosis.

The victim was found wandering within the confines of the Kazhakoottam police station in Thiruvananthapuram and was taken by the police first to a psychosocial rehabilitation center and then to the Peroorkada mental health center.

The mental health center medical commission found that the victim was pregnant, having a gestation period corresponding to eight weeks as of June 4, and as the victim’s relatives could not be found, the mental health center superintendent said informed the fate of the victim to the District Legal Services Authority.

Subsequently, the Brief Application was filed by the Kerala State Legal Services Authority to seek permission to terminate the victim’s pregnancy for medical reasons, as she was not able to give consent.

The court observed that in the present case the pregnancy was a pregnancy which could be terminated on the basis of the opinion of a certified doctor that the continuation of the pregnancy would cause serious damage to her mental health, since the period of gestation was no more than twenty weeks.

Even otherwise, the pregnancy was one that could be terminated based on the advice of two doctors on the lines above, the court said and added that the only obstacle in the matter was that the victim was not unable to give consent. for the same.

Subsequently, the court assumed the mantle of “parens patriae” or legal protector of citizens, a concept developed in common law and applied to situations where the state must make decisions in order to protect the interests of people who are unable to act. take care of themselves.

“This doctrine has been applied in cases involving the rights of minors and people who have been found to be mentally incapable of making informed decisions for themselves,” the court said.

He further stated that Indian courts have developed different tests while exercising their “parens patriae” jurisdiction with the aim of making reproductive decisions on behalf of people with mental illness.

“One of those tests is the ‘best interests’ test, which requires the court to determine the course of action that would best serve the interests of the person in question,” he added.

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Sara R. Cicero