Court Allows Woman to Have Abortion at 25 Weeks Just Because the Baby is Disabled

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Nov 6, 2017   |   12:22PM   |   New Delhi, India

Another unborn baby with a disability is scheduled to be killed this week in India after a court gave the baby’s mother an exception to the 20-week abortion ban.

The India Express reports the mother, 28, requested an abortion exception after, three weeks ago, she learned that her unborn child is suffering from serious neurological and skeletal problems. She currently is 25 weeks pregnant.

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.

At 20 weeks, an unborn baby already is fully formed and close to the point of viability (about 23 weeks). Later-term abortions also are risky and can be deadly for the mother.

On Monday, the Bombay High Court granted the woman’s request for an abortion, the Times of India reports. The court based its decision on a report by a panel of doctors, which stated that the baby likely would not live to adulthood. The doctors said there also were risks to the woman’s health.

“We have gone through the exhaustive report and opinions of medical experts. After evaluation of the petitioner, the report has concluded that there are multiple serious neurological and skeletal abnormalities in the foetus,” Justices S M Kemkar said in the decision.

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“Hence, we deem it appropriate to permit the petitioner to undergo medical termination of the foetus. We direct the procedure to be performed tomorrow at the J J Hospital,” the court ordered.

About a month ago, the Supreme Court of India granted another exception for a woman whose unborn baby had potentially fatal kidney problems. She was 31 weeks pregnant.

In August, the high court gave another Mumbai-area woman permission to abort her unborn baby at 26 weeks after doctors said the baby had a potentially fatal disorder. Doctors at JJ Hospital who examined the woman and her unborn baby said the baby did not have a skull and probably would not survive, according to the Indian Express. The doctors also said the woman was experiencing “immense mental agony.”

“The condition of the foetus is not compatible with life. The medical evidence clearly suggests that there is no point in allowing the pregnancy to run its full course since the foetus would not be able to survive outside the uterus without a skull,” the court ruled.

The problem with the court’s logic is that society does not allow born children who are diagnosed with a fatal disorder to be killed. Instead, these children typically are given the best medical care and pain relief that is available until their lives end naturally. Unborn babies should be treated with the same care and respect. But they are not, and the only reason is because they are still in the womb.

In the past year, the Indian courts have granted numerous exceptions to the 20-week abortion ban. Because of the frequency of these requests, the Supreme Court of India asked the government in July to consider setting up a permanent medical board to examine late-term abortion petitions. Currently, the courts set up temporary medical boards to examine individual cases.