Apex court faces tricky question on motherhoodJuly 20th, 2009 - 9:03 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, July 20 (IANS) The Supreme Court was Monday faced with a tricky question - can a mentally challenged girl, who had become pregnant after being raped, be allowed to give birth to the baby?
Unable to find an easy answer to the question, a bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam issued notice to the Chandigarh administration, which on July 17 got a Punjab and Haryana High Court nod to have the girl’s pregnancy medically terminated.
The apex court notice was issued on a lawsuit filed on behalf of the 19-year-old orphan girl who had been raped by a staffer of a government shelter where she was staying.
After her pregnancy was detected, the Chandigarh administration got her physical and mental condition evaluated medically and came to the conclusion that it was in the girl’s best interests to get the foetus aborted. She is in her 20th week of pregnancy.
A group of young Chandigarh lawyers, led by their colleague Tanu Bedi, approached the apex court Monday on behalf of the girl to save her unborn child.
Making an impassioned plea to the apex court, Bedi argued that the country has no law that stops a woman from becoming a mother.
She argued that the fact the girl is mentally challenged does not make her legally ineligible in becoming mother. She contended that even a Chandigarh medical board, after examining her mental and physical condition, had opined that she could become mother with some support from society.
But the Chandigarh administration decided to have her pregnancy aborted and secured a court ratification to its illegal decision, contended Bedi.
The apex court adjourned the hearing till Tuesday.
Soon after Bedi finished her arguments, a bevy of senior lawyers, including Meenakshi Arora, congratulated her for “forceful and amazing arguments” on the rights of motherhood of the mentally unsound girl.
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