Kerala HC allows Abortion of 15-week Pregnancy of Mentally Challenged Rape Victim

Aishwarya Rathore

The Kerala High Court, in the role of ‘parens patriae,’ or legal protector of citizens, has allowed the termination of a mentally challenged rape victim’s over 15-week pregnancy 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 permitted the Government Mental Health Centre and the Sree Avittom Thirunal Hospital, both in Thiruvananthapuram, to carry out the medical termination of pregnancy.

The hospitals were also directed to take the foetus tissue and save it for DNA testing because the lady, who is from Bihar, was a rape victim.

Justice P B Suresh Kumar took the decision based on the report of a Medical Board which after examining the woman had opined that though the continuation of the pregnancy does not endanger the life of the victim, there was a high risk for the mother and baby as she was on multiple antipsychotic medications.

The matter was brought to the attention of the Court by the Kerala State Legal Services Authority which had espoused the cause of a hapless rape victim diagnosed with psychosis.

The Court, thereafter, donned the mantle of ‘parens patriae’ or legal protector of the citizens, a concept evolved in common law and applied to situations where the State must take decisions in order to protect the interests of those persons who are unable to take care of themselves.

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

It further said that “Courts in India have evolved different tests while exercising ‘parens patriae’ jurisdiction for the purpose of making reproductive decisions on behalf of mentally ill persons.”

“One among the said tests is the test of ‘best interests’ which requires the court to ascertain the course of action which would serve the best interests of the person in question,” it added.

Also read: Pregnant Rape Survivors must be told about legal rights : Supreme Court

Related Post