AIIMS board to examine HIV Positive destitute women for abortion: SC
New Delhi: The Supreme Court directed a medical board of AIIMS, New Delhi to examine a 35-year-old HIV-positive destitute woman, who was raped on the streets of Patna and is 26-week pregnant, for medical termination of her pregnancy.
The apex court said the woman, who has already become a destitute, was sexually assaulted and suffered from a serious medical ailment, should not be allowed to go through further sufferings.
A bench, headed by Justice Dipak Misra, directed the medical board of the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) to examine the woman latest by May 6 to find out whether it would be safe to medically terminate her pregnancy. The Board should place the report by Monday, it said.
"As we are inclined to think that a woman, who has already become a destitute being sexually assaulted and suffering from a serious medical ailment, not to go through further sufferings. The quintessential purpose of life, be it a man or a woman, is the dignity of life and all efforts are to be made to sustain it," the bench, which also comprised Justices A M Khanwilkar and M M Shantanagoudar, said.
It directed that a representative from NGO Koshish should accompany the woman, who is staying in a shelter home 'Shanti Kutir' in Patna, and bring her to Delhi.
It directed the Additional Solicitor Generals P S Narasimha and Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, to arrange for her travel and that of the representative accompanying her.
The court asked both the law officers to assist the court on the issue and also hold discussion with the doctors, saying "we are concerned with saving a life of a destitute woman".
When the matter was taken up for hearing, the bench asked advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for the woman, to ask her whether she was inclined to come to Delhi, to which she replied in the affirmitive.
The apex court said it would not go into the orders of Patna High Court which had held that the Medical Board's report has stated that it would be unsafe for the life of the petitioner and there was a compelling responsibility of the state to keep the child alive.
The High Court had said the woman's pregnancy had crossed the legal embargo of 20 weeks under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 and was unsafe to medically terminate her pregnancy.
Grover said the High Court had failed to appreciate that the woman was 35 years of age and completely fit to make her own reproductive choices without any interference.
In her plea, the woman said she was a destitute and had come to know about her pregnancy for the first time around the 13th week, and that too after she was rescued by Shanti Kutir, a Women's Rehabilitation Centre, and made to take a pregnancy test on January 26.
The woman said she had expressed her desire to terminate her pregnancy on March 4 to a research officer of Koshish, a Field Action Project of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, with whom she was in contact.
However, it was only after she revealed to the superintendent of the shelter home that the pregnancy was the outcome of rape, she made attempts to have it terminated at the Patliputra Medical College and Hospital on March 14.
According to the plea, the hospital refused to admit the woman owing to lack of identity proof.
To terminate her pregnancy, she approached the High Court which constituted a medical board to examine her. The board submitted its report on March 17 which said that termination would involve surgical process which may lead to health complications such as bleeding, anaesthesia hazard and sepsis.
In her appeal before the apex court, the woman said that her father and husband who have deserted her, in their respective replies before the High Court, had conveyed their consent for termination of pregnancy of the Petitioner.