Courts in India are setting new precedents by allowing sexual assault victims to abort their unborn babies past the 20-week abortion limit.
The latest case involves a 13-year-old rape victim who is 26 weeks pregnant. PTI news service reports the Bombay High Court ruled Tuesday that the young girl may abort her unborn child.
“Considering the [medical] board’s report and the age of the victim, considering the trauma she has already undergone and the agony she is likely to undergo if forced to continue with this pregnancy, we are inclined to allow the plea,” the court ruled.
Abortions are illegal after 20 weeks of pregnancy in India. However, women or their families increasingly have been petitioning the courts for permission to abort their unborn babies after the limit, especially in cases involving fetal abnormalities or sexual assault.
In the 13-year-old’s case, her father asked the court to allow his daughter to have a late-term abortion, according to the report. It is not clear if the girl also wants the abortion or if she is being pressured into it. She allegedly was raped repeatedly by her cousin.
A medical board that examined the young teen said she was at greater risk of pregnancy complications because of her young age and physically incapable of delivering a child, the report states.
However, a late-term abortion also is a very risky, multiple day procedure that can kill the mother as well as her unborn baby. On the first day, the abortionist typically injects a poison into the unborn baby’s heart or head to kill them. They also begin to dilate the mother’s cervix to prepare for childbirth. On the third or fourth day, they induce labor and the mother gives birth to her dead baby.
And at 26 weeks of pregnancy, an unborn baby can survive outside the womb with the proper medical care.
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Indian courts increasingly have been granting late-term abortion requests to survivors of sexual assault, thereby creating second victims of the horrific abuse.
In a similar case before the Supreme Court of India earlier this year, a 10-year-old rape victim was never told that she was pregnant, that her parents wanted her to have a late-term abortion, or later that she gave birth to a child. The Indian high court refused her parents’ request for a late-term abortion in her case because of the risks to her life. The parents made an adoption plan for the baby without telling their daughter.
In September, the high court allowed a 17-year-old rape survivor to abort her unborn baby past the 20-week limit. In that case, a medical board at the Bangalore Medical College and Research Centre recommended that she have an abortion for health reasons.
In May, the high court also granted permission for a 10-year-old rape victim to have a late-term abortion when she was about 20 weeks pregnant, allegedly by her stepfather.
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 give birth to her baby.
Rape is an awful crime of violence committed against a woman or girl, but an abortion does not erase the violence or heal the pain. It just ends the life of a second victim of the crime, an unborn child.
Research by the Elliot Institute found that between 75 percent to 85 percent of pregnant rape victims do not have abortions. Of those who did, many felt pressured or coerced to abort their unborn babies. And in many cases, the women who had abortions felt victimized again by the invasive abortion procedure.