Parents of Man Who Raped a 17-Year-Old: She and Her Unborn Baby are Welcome in Our Family

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Aug 2, 2017   |   12:10PM   |   New Delhi, India

The parents of a man accused of raping a 17-year-old girl in India reached out to the victim this week and offered to support her and her unborn child.

The Hindustan Times reports the 17-year-old victim, who is not named in reports, is seeking a court’s permission to have a late-term abortion. However, the Rajasthan high court that heard her request Tuesday also considered an affidavit from the accused rapist’s parents, promising that they would support the girl and her child.

Abortions are illegal after 20 weeks of pregnancy in India. However, women increasingly have been petitioning the courts 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 court.

The 17-year-old is at least 21 weeks pregnant, according to the report. 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.

Here’s more from the report:

“We are willing to treat the girl as our son’s wife and her child as our grandchild. We will maintain them to the best of our capabilities,” read an affidavit submitted by the parents of the accused, Shiv Lal, in court. Lal has been remanded in prison pending trial.

The high court had earlier rejected the victim’s plea to terminate the foetus because it was 21 weeks old, seven days more than the specified ceiling for medical abortion, and ordered the accused’s parents to appear before it on August 1.

The accused, Shiv Lal, allegedly kidnapped the teen and raped her repeatedly. Police said they found the teen and arrested Lal earlier this year.

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Because of the frequency of late-term abortion petitions, the Supreme Court of India asked the government recently to consider setting up a permanent medical board to examine late-term abortion petitions, according to the Herald. Currently, the courts set up temporary medical boards to examine individual cases.

Last week, the high court spared a late-term unborn baby and its 10-year-old mother, a rape victim, from abortion. However, in May, it gave another 10-year-old rape victim permission to have her unborn baby aborted.

What will happen with the 17-year-old’s case is uncertain. The pledge of support from the alleged abuser’s parents is unique, and it remains to be seen how the pledge could influence the court’s decision.

Typically, the Indian court decisions about late-term abortion petitions have been based on the physical health of the mother and/or her unborn child.

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.