A Chandigarh district court has refused to allow a 10-year-old girl, who got pregnant after her uncle allegedly raped her multiple times over seven months, abort her 26-week old foetus.
According to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, medical termination of pregnancy is allowed up to 20 weeks or in cases when the foetus is genetically abnormal.
The judge rejected the plea, filed by the city police, on the grounds that it would put the girl’s health and life at risk. The decision was based on a report submitted by two gynaecologists of the Government Medical College and Hospital in Sector 32, The Tribune reported.
According to the TOI report, the case has left doctors perplexed and in a quandary, since cases of such young girls getting pregnant are rare and pregnancies like these are difficult to detect in time for safe abortions.
Doctors insist the pelvic bones are not fully developed in girls at this age and, therefore, tolerating a full-term pregnancy is very risky. While normal delivery is ruled out, even a Caesarean section at that age is dangerous.
"I have not seen a 10-yearold girl pregnant ever before," said Rashmi Bagga, department of obstetrics and gynaecology, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh. She added that in contrast to a normal pregnancy, underage pregnancy is difficult to detect. "When a menstrual cycle is missed, it is not noted by underage girls," she said.
Officials from Government Medical College and Hospital told TOI that they have submitted their medical advice to the court regarding termination of the foetus, but refused to give more details.
The judge had sought a report from the doctors after the police had approached the court on Saturday. The uncle, a native of Nepal identified as Kul Bahadur, was arrested on allegations that he had raped his niece seven to eight times.
Unfortunately, this is not the first case of its kind. Even though there is legal precedent of courts ruling in favour of termination of advanced pregnancies in raped minors, individual judgements in different parts of the country vary dramatically. In 2015, the Supreme Court, in a landmark judgement ruled in favour of the 14-year-old rape victim, after which her 25-week pregnancy was terminated.
In May this year, another 10-year-old girl from Haryana faced a similar situation. Raped by her stepfather, her pregnancy was inconclusively pegged at 18 to 22 weeks along when the courts decided to leave the decision of whether it was safe to abort with the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS), the hospital she was admitted at. Doctors at PGIMS decided to terminate the pregnancy.