Doctors are scheduled to debate a highly controversial abortion case this week in India involving the lives of a 10-year-old rape victim and her unborn baby.
The girl, only recently discovered to be pregnant, already is past the 20-week legal abortion limit in India, according to The Express Tribune. Exceptions are allowed if the mother’s life is in danger.
The BBC reports a team of medical experts is scheduled to meet this week to determine if the girl should be allowed to have a late-term abortion.
Mirage News reports the girl’s family discovered that she was pregnant last week, allegedly to her stepfather. When the girl’s mother suspected the abuse, she reported the stepfather to authorities and took her daughter to a doctor for a pregnancy test, the report states. The family is from Rohtak Town in Haryana, India.
Police said they have the stepfather in custody, and they are investigating the rape allegations. They said the girl told her mother that the stepfather warned her not to tell anyone of the abuse.
The girl was discovered to be five-months pregnant last week, according to the reports. Her family asked authorities to make an exception to the law and allow her to abort her unborn baby.
In the past few years, authorities in India have received a number of late-term abortion requests. In January, the Supreme Court granted an exception for a woman whose late-term unborn baby was diagnosed with anencephaly, a brain malformation that typically is fatal, LifeNews reported.
In 2015, the Indian high 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 fit to have a baby, physically or emotionally.
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.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 93 women are raped in India every day, and most of the victims know their perpetrators. The NCRB reports the women typically are between 18 and 30 years old (15,556) and 14 and 18 years old (8,877).
After rape, many of these victims are forced to abort their unborn babies to cover up the crimes of their attackers.
Just a few countries allow late-term abortions for any reason when unborn babies are viable outside the womb. The United States and Canada are among them.
Recently, a number of U.S. states passed laws prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks when strong scientific evidence indicates that unborn babies can feel pain. Earlier this month, Iowa became the 17th state to pass a law. However, some states still allow abortions for any reason up to birth.