13-Year-Old Seeks Permission to Abort Her 22-Week-Old Unborn Baby

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Sep 19, 2017   |   12:42PM   |   New Delhi, India

The family of another young rape survivor in India wants the country’s Supreme Court to allow her to abort her late-term unborn baby.

Her case is one of numerous abortion cases brought before the high court this year asking for permission to abort an unborn baby past the 20-week legal abortion limit.

The Times of India reports the 13-year-old girl from East Delhi is 22 weeks pregnant with her unborn child. On Friday, the high court agreed to hear her case.

Divyesh Pratap Singh, a lawyer for the girl’s family, said the girl will suffer physically and emotionally if she does not abort her unborn baby.

“The victim … is physically and mentally incapable of carrying this pregnancy,” Singh told reporters. “She will have to face severe psychological, physical and emotional trauma of going through a full term pregnancy and eventually be in a helpless situation either to fend for herself or for her child. … delivery and bringing up the child will put an abrupt end to her education, driving her further into poverty.”

The high court justices ordered that the girl be examined Saturday by a medical board and receive a report on her condition by Monday, according to the report.

The young girl allegedly was raped by her parents’ landlord while they were at work, according to the report. Her parents said they learned about her pregnancy recently when they took her to the doctor because they were worried about her bloated stomach.

It is not clear if the girl wants the abortion or if her parents do. In another similar case, the parents of a 10-year-old rape victim was never told that she was pregnant, that her parents wanted her to have a late-term abortion, or later that she gave birth to a child. The Indian high court refused her parents’ request for a late-term abortion in her case because of the risks to her life. The parents made an adoption plan for the baby.

Sexual abuse is a huge problem in India, with 20,000 cases of sexual assaults reported in 2015, according to government data reported by AFP.

The high court has heard a number of requests for late-term abortions from families of young rape victims in the past few months. Abortions are illegal after 20 weeks of pregnancy in India. However, the high court has received an increasing number of petitions for late-term abortions because of fetal abnormalities or sexual assault in the past few years.

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Earlier in September, the Supreme Court gave a 13-year-old girl permission to abort her unborn baby at 32 weeks; however, the girl gave birth to a live baby. The baby boy died two days later, likely because his lungs were underdeveloped.

In May, the high court granted permission for a 10-year-old rape victim to have a late-term abortion when she was about 20 weeks pregnant. In that case, the girl’s stepfather allegedly raped her.

Dr. Ashok Chauhan, a panelist in the case, described the situation as “borderline” because the girl was approximately 20 weeks pregnant, the legal abortion limit. The panel also mentioned concerns about the young girl’s physical and mental health.

Similarly, in 2015, the India Supreme 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 physically or emotionally fit to give birth to her baby.

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.