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10 May 2017

SC refuses abortion to rape victim

TT, New Delhi, May 9: The Supreme Court today refused to allow a rape and HIV-afflicted victim to abort her 26-week foetus but directed the Bihar government to pay an interim compensation of Rs 3 lakh for delay in taking a decision on terminating her pregnancy.
The refusal followed a report by a panel of doctors from the AIIMS, which said an abortion at such an advanced stage posed grave risk to both the 35-year-old mother and the child.
A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra, however, asked the AIIMS doctors to draw up a treatment plan to ensure the baby didn't contract the infection. The plan will have to be followed by doctors at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences in Patna, where the victim, said to be a destitute, will be shifted soon.
Under current laws, abortion is not allowed beyond 20 weeks. Such termination is permitted beyond that period only in exceptional circumstances and, that too, after medical opinion.
Today, the apex court said it would determine on August 9, the next date of hearing, the total compensation the Bihar authorities must pay the woman for negligence. Advocate Vrinda Grover, who appeared for the woman, sought adequate compensation, saying the victim had pleaded for abortion when she was 17 weeks pregnant but the authorities were lax in their response.
The authorities responded only last week, handing in a report refusing permission for the abortion. By then, the victim had already crossed the 20-week deadline. She approached the apex court after Patna High Court dismissed her plea.
On Grover's request, the apex court agreed to lay down guidelines to avoid a repeat of similar incidents. The victim was allegedly raped by an unidentified man and subsequently shifted to a shelter in Patna where she was discovered to be pregnant and suffering from HIV.

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