Reproductive choice part of woman's personal liberty under Article 21: Kerala HC

Is the State not even able to give students protection within their own campus?” asked the court. Photo: Special Arrangement.

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Wednesday said that reproductive choice was part of a woman's personal liberty under Article 21. The court observed the same while allowing medical termination of pregnancy for a minor rape survivor.

Justice V G Arun, in an order issued on December 12, allowed the petition of a 17-year-old mentally challenged girl, to terminate her pregnancy that reached 26 weeks.

"A woman's right to make reproductive choice is recognised as part of her personal liberty under Article 21, subject of course to reasonable restrictions," the court said.

The court noted that the medical board, after considering all aspects, has opined that continuation of pregnancy can seriously affect the mental health of the victim and she is likely to develop depression and psychosis.

"In view of the Medical Board's opinion and considering the mental status of the victim, I am inclined to allow the prayer for medical termination of the pregnancy," the court said.

It also opined that each day's delay will add to the victim's agony.

The pregnancy is alleged to be the result of rape committed by a neighbour.

The family approached the court after they came to know about the pregnancy after she was examined by a gynaecologist recently.

The court ordered the procedure to be conducted at a government hospital.

"If the baby is alive at birth, the hospital shall ensure that the baby is offered the best medical treatment available, so that it develops into a healthy child," the court said.

The court also said that if the petitioner was not willing to assume the responsibility of the baby, the state and its agencies shall do so and offer medical support and facilities to the child, keeping in mind the best interests of the child and the statutory provisions in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

(With PTI inputs.)

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