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Indore HC allows women prisoner to abort her baby conceived out of prostitution

Posted on Jan 30, 09:36AM | UNI

New Delhi, Jan 29 : The High Court of Madhya Pradesh at Indore has allowed a pregnant female prisoner to abort her foetus under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act as she was forced into prostitution by her husband

According to a press release issued by Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), the HC at Indore has allowed Hallo BI who is in prison for charges of murdering her husband who allegedly forced her into prostitution, to exercise her reproductive right under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act

The women wanted to abort the baby as she did not want her child to face humiliation of being born out of rape and of a murder accused mother

According to HRLN, Hallo Bi was allegedly sold into prostitution by her husband and her pregnancy was a result of continuous rape on her for several months

The HC said, ''We cannot force a victim of violent rape/forced sex to give birth to a child of a rapist. The anguish and the humiliation which the petitioner is suffering daily, will certainly cause a grave injury to her mental health,'' the court remarked

The HC though allowed Hallo Bi to exercise her rights under the MTP Act on her own will, but refused to issue any guidelines regarding the rape victims rights to abortion

HRLN lawyer said this is a positive development for Hallo Bi and sets an important precedent for similar circumstances by affirming rape victims' right to lawful termination of pregnancy under the 1971 Act. Unsafe abortions are one of the leading causes of maternal mortality in India with approximately 6.7 million abortions performed every year at unregulated facilities, often by medical practitioners untrained in abortion services, the NGO working on the rights of distressed women said

In early December 2012, the HRLN Reproductive Rights Unit Assistant Director, Ms. Karla Torres, who took note of the newspaper report (in the Times of India) about a pregnant woman who was in prison for allegedly murdering her husband and had been ordered to make a written application to the High Court for a termination of pregnancy

HRLN advocate Mrs Shanno Shagufta Khan soon fixed a meeting with Hallo Bi in Indore Jail and a petition was filed in the HC to allow medical termination of pregnancy

The court, however, declined HRLN's petition in which it has asked the HC to issue guiding directions to the Jail and others for future purposes as both the Act and the jail manual are silent on this aspect, the petitioner had pleaded

Shagufta Khan said under the Act, the decision to terminate a pregnancy is between a woman and her doctor(s). As such, once a medical practitioner is of the opinion that the pregnant woman falls within the conditions laid down in the Act, a medical termination of pregnancy can take place. A court, therefore, does not have authority to determine whether a woman can or cannot terminate her pregnancy. Instead, a court can ensure that a woman who requests a medical termination of pregnancy under circumstances that satisfy the Act is provided with adequate medical care and services to fulfill her right to a termination of pregnancy