India Woman Seeking Late-Term Abortion Undecided on Supreme Court Appeal

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 5, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

India Woman Seeking Late-Term Abortion Undecided on Supreme Court Appeal

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 5
, 2008

Bombay, India ( — A woman in India who has caused a national controversy there with her request for a late-term abortion that goes beyond the scope of the nation’s abortion laws hasn’t decided whether she will take her case to the nation’s Supreme Court. The Bombay High Court decided on Monday against her.

After a panel of physicians weighed in on the case, the court denied the request from the woman and her husband who wanted a late-term abortion on a baby who is supposedly physically disabled.

The doctors said further examinations showed no abnormalities in the 26-week-old unborn baby, though there is some question as to whether that’s the case.

Niketa and Harsh Mehta have received numerous offers to adopt the baby following the birth if they would continue the pregnancy full-term.

Amit Karkhanis, the lawyer for Niketa and her husband, told the PTI news service that the couple has not decided if they want to take their case to the nation’s high court.

Justices RMS Khandeparkar and Amjad Sayed cited the recommendations by the doctors in their decision.

“There is no medical evidence on record to say that he will be handicapped after birth,” they wrote in their decision. “The petitioners have not made out that this lady’s case is exceptional for us to use discretionary powers."

They said they would not have allowed the abortion even if the request came before the 20-week period considered the earliest an unborn child could survive outside the womb.

The couple had claimed at least one doctor indicated the baby would be born with a congenital heart block. They said the baby would need a pacemaker to regulate her heart from the time of birth and they couldn’t afford one.

On Tuesday, the CEO of Jaslok hospital, Colonel M Masand, said the medical center would give the family a free pacemaker for the infant if they give birth to the child, and will pay for the cost of the surgery.

Meanhwhile, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai, offered to adopt the baby.

"We have offered to adopt the baby and ensure that it is bought up well and the mother need not have any concern on that score. The Church very clearly takes a clear and strong stand about the abortion. We are totally against it," Gracias told PTI.

The judges also said they couldn’t change the current India law on abortions, known as the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act. The law prohibits abortions beyond 20 weeks into pregnancy unless the mother’s life is at risk from it.

“It is the job of the legislature to help you alter the provision. We can not legislate the provision," they said, according to a NI Wire report.


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