In an attempt to cut down delay in carrying out abortion of rape victims, the states of Punjab, Haryana and the Union Territory of Chandigarh have issued instructions paving way for conducting medical termination of pregnancy without court orders where pregnancy was of 20 weeks.
The instructions stating that abortions could be carried out on recommendations of a medical board constituted by the PGIMER-Chandigarh or PGI-Rohtak without judicial involvement came following Punjab and Haryana High Court’s intervention after a rape victim filed a plea.
Taking up the matter, Justice Ritu Bahri on a previous date of hearing had observed that the petitioner-victim had delivered a girl. But her “situation is very pathetic”.
Appearing before the Bench, PGIMER counsel Namrta Shergil had, on the other hand, sought time to comply with an earlier order on filing an affidavit specifying the stage till when abortion could be carried out in a rape victim’s case.
As the case came up for resumed hearing, an affidavit filed by Dr Naresh Kumar, Punjab Director Health Service (Family Welfare), was placed before Justice Bahri’s Bench stating that all civil surgeons, medical superintendents and senior medical officers had been directed that a rape victim’s case was required to be immediately referred to the PGIMER if she became 20-week pregnant. Abortion could be carried out without court orders, after getting recommendations from PGIMER’s medical board.
Another affidavit filed by Haryana Additional Chief Secretary, Administration of Justice Department, added that instructions had been issued to send the victim to PGIMER, Chandigarh, and PGI, Rohtak, for examination by a medical board in case she turned 20-week pregnant.
Medical Superintendent of Government Multi-Specialty Hospital, Chandigarh, too, filed an affidavit, starting that instructions had been issued to the senior medical officer/medical officer in charge obstetrics and gynecology department.
Disposing of the petition, Justice Bahri said all directions had been complied with and no further directions were required to be issued.