Rajasthan High Court Rules on Abortion Rights of a Rape Survivor

The Rajasthan High Court, in a case, upheld the rights of a child rape survivor over the rights of an unborn child. The judgment was delivered in an appeal to a writ petition filed by a pregnant child rape survivor for abortion. The appeal challenged the decision of a single-judge bench of the Court. The threshold period for aborting the foetus was over. Thus, the Bench had restrained the victim from terminating the pregnancy. This was done despite the medical board declaring the foetus safe for abortion.

The single-judge bench had held that the foetus has a right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution; thus decided against abortion. It observed, “Court cannot be unmindful of the ‘yet to be born’- a fully alive prospective child in the womb.” The State Government then appealed against the judgment. It claimed, “the impugned Judgment impinges upon the fundamental right of victims of rape from seeking termination of forced pregnancy.”

Interestingly, the appeal was rendered futile since the child was already delivered. Nevertheless, the State Government urged the Court to decide upon the issue. This is so because it would clear the path for future rape survivors. The Division Bench of the High Court overruled the decision of the Single Bench. It held that woman’s right to reproductive choice falls under the ambit of Article 21. Adding that this right outweighs the right to life of a child in the womb.