A 16-year-old rape survivor and her unborn baby have been spared from a late-term abortion after a Mumbai court rejected her father’s request for a waver of India’s 20-week abortion ban.
PTI news service reports the teen is 27 weeks pregnant with her unborn baby, past the point of viability.
Abortions are illegal after 20 weeks of pregnancy in India. However, women or their families increasingly have been petitioning the high court for permission to abort their unborn babies after the limit, especially in cases involving fetal abnormalities or sexual assault.
On Friday, a Mumbai, India court rejected the teen’s father’s request for a late-term abortion after a panel of doctors determined that the young woman’s health was not at risk by continuing the pregnancy, according to the report.
Lawyers for the young woman argued that she was suffering from anemia and could experience more physical and mental trauma if she has to give birth and raise a child conceived in rape.
However, the court and panel of doctors disagreed. The court told the family that they could make an adoption plan for the baby if the young woman is not prepared to care for the child.
The young woman from Thane, India allegedly was raped by a local delivery boy who promised to marry her and then abandoned her when she discovered she was pregnant, the report states.
It is not clear if the young woman wants the abortion or if her father does.
In a similar case before the Supreme Court of India earlier this year, 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 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.
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Earlier in September, the Supreme Court of India 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 September, the high court also allowed a 17-year-old rape survivor to abort her unborn baby past the 20-week limit. In that case, a medical board at the Bangalore Medical College and Research Centre recommended that she have an abortion for health reasons.
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, allegedly by her stepfather.
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.
By 20 weeks, an unborn baby is almost fully formed and close to the point of viability (about 23 weeks). A late-term abortion also is a very risky, multiple day procedure that can kill the mother as well as her unborn baby. On the first day, the abortionist typically injects a poison into the unborn baby’s heart or head to kill them. They also begin to dilate the mother’s cervix to prepare for childbirth. On the third or fourth day, they induce labor and the mother gives birth to her dead baby.