An Indian woman who is 27-weeks pregnant with her unborn baby recently asked a court to let her abort her viable, late-term baby because of a disability.
On Dec. 26, the woman, Shaikh Ayesha Khatoon, told the Bombay High Court that her unborn baby has heart, brain and gastrointestinal anomalies, and she wants an abortion, The Hindu reports. She was 27 weeks and four days pregnant on that date, far past the point of viability, according to the report.
Abortions are illegal after 20 weeks of pregnancy in India. However, women or their families increasingly have been petitioning the high court for permission to abort their unborn babies after the limit, especially in cases involving fetal abnormalities or sexual assault.
At 20 weeks, an unborn baby already is fully formed and close to the point of viability (about 22-23 weeks). Later-term abortions also are risky and can be deadly for the mother.
In the latest case, the court directed a medical board at J.J. Hospital to examine the woman’s physical and mental health. Their medical report to the high court is due Jan. 8, according to the report.
“Since November last year, over 10 women have moved the Bombay High Court seeking permission to terminate their foetuses, which have crossed the 20-week abortion limit,” according to the report.
The court allowed many of the women to abort their unborn babies with disabilities. In the fall, the Supreme Court of India granted an exception for a woman whose unborn baby had potentially fatal kidney problems. She was 31 weeks pregnant.
In August, the high court gave another Mumbai-area woman permission to abort her unborn baby at 26 weeks after doctors said the baby had a potentially fatal disorder. Doctors at J.J. Hospital who examined the woman and her unborn baby said the baby did not have a skull and probably would not survive, according to the Indian Express. The doctors also said the woman was experiencing “immense mental agony.”
Keep up with the latest pro-life news and information on Twitter. Follow @LifeNewsHQ
However, in early 2017, the high court did uphold the right to life for an unborn baby diagnosed with Down syndrome. The mother was 26 weeks pregnant when she requested the abortion.
“It is sad that the child may suffer from physical and mental challenges and it’s unfortunate for the mother but we can’t allow an abortion…We have a life in our hands,” the court said in its February 2017 ruling.
The judicial decisions in such cases appear to rest heavily on the likelihood of the unborn baby dying from his/her condition soon before or after birth. However, it should not matter whether the baby has a fatal defect; the unborn baby is a valuable human being who deserves protection and care until their natural death.
Most countries prohibit late-term abortions on viable, unborn babies. The United States and Canada are among the few exceptions.
LifeNews Note: Image below is of an unborn baby at 27 weeks.