Right To Make Reproductive Choices A Facet of Personal Liberty Under Article 21: Kerala HC Allows Abortion For 14 year old Rape Survivor

The Kerala High Court has enabled the termination of 24-week pregnancy of a minor rape survivor in the state.

The division bench comprising Justices AK Jayashankaran Nambiar and Shaji P Chaly passed an order on April 4 based on the medical board's recommendations that the continuation of pregnancy pose a risk to the 14-year-old rape survivor's mental and physical wellbeing.

Noting the 'difficult and disheartening situation,' the bench also noted that' the right to make reproductive decisions under Article 21 is a facet of personal freedom.

The bench in its judgement said: "There are substantial risks to the life of the girl as well as to her mental health, if she is allowed to continue with her pregnancy at the young age of 14 years."

"...we are of the view that the Y’’s right to make reproductive choices is also a facet of her personal liberty as understood under Article 21 of our Constitution. The said choice would extend to deciding whether or not to carry her pregnancy to its full term. Although the said right is subject to the restrictions imposed under the MTP Act, in the instant case, we find that the report of the Medical Board justifies Y’’s decision and besides, she also has the consent of her parents to terminate her pregnancy," the judgment read.

The 14-year-old had been missing from her home almost five months ago, and was later traced in Mangalore with a 28-year-old man. The accused was then charged for rape and prosecuted under IPC and POCSO.

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