The Supreme Court of India has spared a late-term unborn baby and its 10-year-old mother, a rape victim, from abortion.
The young girl’s family is yet another this year to petition the Asian country’s high court for an exception to the late-term abortion ban. In the most recent case, the 10-year-old girl became pregnant after she allegedly was raped by her uncle, the Deccan Herald reports.
Abortions are illegal after 20 weeks of pregnancy in India. However, women increasingly have been petitioning the high court for permission to abort their late-term unborn babies because of fetal abnormalities. Some families of young rape victims also have made requests to the high court.
The young girl from Punjab is 32 weeks pregnant with her unborn child, and doctors who examined her said it is in her best interest to give birth to the child, according to Channel News Asia. This week, the high court agreed.
Here’s more from the report:
The Supreme Court judges said they cannot allow a termination because the medical report suggested it was “neither good for the mother nor the foetus”.
The girl, who has not been named, was allegedly raped several times by an uncle. He has been arrested for multiple rape.
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The pregnancy was only discovered recently after her parents took her to hospital complaining of stomach pain. The parents then approached the courts to allow an abortion.
Their initial plea at a local court was declined over similar safety fears. The family challenged the ruling at the Supreme Court.
Lawyer for the girl’s family Alakh Srivastava told the Daily Trust the court also ordered that the girl and her baby be provided with “the best possible medical facilities.”
Because of the increasing frequency of late-term abortion petitions, the Supreme Court of India asked the government this week to consider setting up a permanent medical board to examine the requests, according to the Herald. Currently, the courts set up temporary medical boards to examine individual cases.
The high court protected the young girl and her unborn child from abortion this time; but in May, it gave another 10-year-old rape victim’s family permission to have her unborn baby aborted.
Dr. Ashok Chauhan, a panelist in the case, described the situation as “borderline” because the girl was about 20 weeks pregnant, the legal limit. The panel also mentioned concerns about the young girl’s physical and mental health.
In 2015, the India Supreme Court 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.
In February, however, the high court rejected another woman’s request for a late-term abortion because her unborn baby has Down syndrome. The Free Press Journal reports the court said the woman’s life was not at risk and her baby should not be aborted simply because of the genetic disorder. The woman was 26 weeks pregnant at the time.
“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 that case.
At 20 weeks, an unborn baby already is fully formed and close to the point of viability (about 23 weeks). Late-term abortions also are risky and can be deadly for the mother as well as her unborn child.