In a recent ruling, the Kerala High Court dismissed a petition seeking permission for the termination of the pregnancy of a 12-year-old girl engaged in an incestual relationship with her minor brother. The court contended that termination was not a viable option as the fetus had reached the advanced stage of the 34th week and was deemed “fully developed.”
Justice Devan Ramachandran, who headed the bench, emphasised that given the stage of gestation, allowing the child to be born was the only plausible course of action. The court ordered the custody of the minor girl and her parents or guardians while explicitly instructing authorities to ensure that the brother, facing allegations, was kept away from the girl.
The initial recommendation from the Medical Board favored terminating the 34-week pregnancy, considering the young age and psychological trauma of the minor girl. However, following discussions with the court, the Medical Board altered its stance, stating that the minor girl was deemed healthy enough to carry the pregnancy to full term. Citing insufficient information in the Medical Board reports, the court mandated a reassessment of both the minor girl and the fetus.
The subsequent review by the Medical Board indicated that extending the pregnancy by an additional two weeks to achieve full term was unlikely to have a significant psychological impact on the minor girl. The Board further recommended a caesarean delivery over a vaginal delivery, considering it would have a lesser psychological impact.
The petitioners’ counsel argued that if no alternatives were available, the minor girl would endure the two-week extension, and they requested the choice between caesarean and vaginal delivery to be left to the petitioners. Additionally, they sought permission for the minor girl to stay with her parents, ensuring she received their care and support.
However, the court, in rejecting the plea, affirmed that the petitioners would receive continuous and comprehensive medical assistance. It also clarified that post-delivery, the petitioners could seek assistance under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.