New Delhi’s Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s decision yesterday, ruling against terminating the pregnancy of a nineteen-year-old mentally handicapped rape victim. This ruling was made immediately before the pregnancy reached 20 weeks, the latest that abortion is legal in India. Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan stated, “we know that she will not be able to rear the child [but] someone else can take care of the child.” He also said that “Nature will take care on its own,” reported the The Telegraph.
The lower court ordered an abortion in the case last week due to the medical and psychological risks the pregnancy would incur on the victim. In the lower court’s ruling, the judge wrote, “We have no hesitation in observing that she is extremely vulnerable to all types of deceptive, dishonest and immoral offers even at the hands of those whom the law bestowed with the duty of looking after her,” reported the Times of India.
The victim, whose cognitive functioning is similar to that of a nine-year-old, was allegedly raped by an attendant at a government-run home, Nari Niketan, where she was living. The case has sparked strong public debate between anti- and pro-choice activists since the woman’s pregnancy was discovered in May. Anupam Gupta, who represented the facility where the woman was allegedly raped, argued in court that “Her keenness to keep the child is not a reflection of her consent but that of a child who needs a toy…She can only physically deliver a child and that’s all,” reported the The Telegraph.