Madhuben Arvindbhai Nimavat v. State of Gujarat (2016)

The Petitioner, a minor girl, through her father sought a Court order under Article 226 (Writ Jurisdiction of High Courts) of the Constitution of India seeking issuance of directions to the government authority for the termination of her pregnancy. In accordance with the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971 (the “MTP Act”), abortion is permissible up to the 20th week of a pregnancy in cases where the pregnancy poses a risk to the woman’s life or her physical or mental health or where there is a substantial risk of fetal impairment. Under the MTP Act, pregnancies resulting from rape are presumed to constitute a grave injury to the mental health of the pregnant woman. The MTP Act only provides for termination beyond the 20th week when the pregnant woman’s life is at risk.

By the time the case reached the High Court, the Petitioner was more than 20 weeks into her pregnancy, which resulted from rape. Noting her youth and that she was in bad health, the Petitioner argued that continuing the pregnancy would jeopardize her mental and physical health. Relying on prior case law that interpreted the MTP Act as permitting terminations beyond the 20th week where pregnancy poses a serious risk to the pregnant woman, the Petitioner sought permission to obtain an abortion.