A high court in India protected a late-term unborn baby from abortion Wednesday when it refused to give a pregnant rape victim permission to abort her viable unborn child.
Twenty weeks is the legal abortion limit in India. Exceptions are allowed if the mother’s life is in danger, but lately more people have been petitioning the country’s courts to grant wider exceptions for late-term abortions in cases of rape and fetal anomalies.
In the latest case, a 17-year-old rape victim’s father asked a Mumbai court to allow his daughter to have an abortion 26 weeks into her pregnancy, the Times of India reports.
In his petition, the young woman’s father told the court: “(She is under) serious trauma for carrying an unwanted pregnancy, at the cost of sacrificing her future life, right to privacy and good health. She can’t lead a life with dignity. Being the father and natural guardian of a minor rape victim he has all the rights to get justice for his daughter.”
On Wednesday, a panel of judges on the court refused the request, and the family withdrew the petition, the report states.
At 26 weeks, the young woman’s unborn baby already is a viable, fully-formed human being. Late-term abortions also expose the mother to greater risks, including death.
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Last August, the young woman, who is not named in reports, allegedly was kidnapped by a neighbor outside her school in Pune, India. She told Dattawadi police that the man raped her and forced her to marry him, according to police.
Her family filed a report with the police after she did not come home from school on Aug. 22, 2016, according to the report. Police said they found the young woman and her alleged abuser on April 23. They arrested the man and charged him with kidnapping, rape and sexual abuse of a minor, the report states.
Judges in India have received a number of late-term abortion requests in the past few years.
Earlier this spring, a court-appointed panel of doctors in Haryana, India gave a 10-year-old rape victim permission to have an abortion after the 20-week limit. The young girl’s mother requested the abortion after her husband, the girl’s stepfather, allegedly raped her. It was unclear what the young girl’s wishes were in the matter.
Similarly, in 2015, the India Supreme Court also gave an exception to a 14-year-old rape victim who was past 20 weeks pregnant. At the time, the BBC reported a team of doctors decided the girl was not physically or emotionally fit to have a baby.
As LifeNews previously reported, the first judge involved in the case, Abhilasha Kumari, ruled differently. He said it was a difficult decision but concluded that the unborn baby is innocent just like the victim.
Kumari said: “Whatever be the circumstances in which the child was conceived, whatever the trauma of the young mother, the fact remains that the child is also not to blame for being conceived. It did not ask to be born. The child is innocent, just like the victim, its mother.”
However, the Supreme Court overturned his ruling and allowed the unborn baby to be aborted.
In January, the India Supreme Court also gave an exception to a woman whose late-term unborn baby was diagnosed with anencephaly, a brain malformation that typically is fatal, LifeNews reported.