An Indian woman who is 30 weeks pregnant urged a court to allow her to abort her disabled unborn baby this week, claiming the child would be a financial burden on her family.
PTI news service reports the woman, 33, of Nashik, India, said she and her husband already have a son with Down syndrome, and they cannot afford to raise a second child with special needs.
In their petition to the Bombay High Court, they also claimed the baby should be aborted because he/she would not lead a “normal life.”
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 is nearly fully formed and close to the point of viability (about 22 weeks). By 30 weeks, babies have a very good chance of surviving outside the womb. Later-term abortions also are risky and can be deadly for the mother.
However, the couple claimed giving birth to a baby with disabilities would cause “physical and mental trauma” for the mother.
Here’s more from the report:
In their plea, filed through advocate Kuldeep Nikam last week, the couple urged the court to grant them relief saying that giving birth to another child with special needs would also impose much financial burden upon them since the woman is a housewife and her husband runs a small business.
According to the plea, on September 11, the woman’s doctor suggested that considering her first child’s condition, she undergo a scan to check if the foetus too had any developmental abnormalities.
The medical report from the scan revealed that the foetus had ‘schizencephaly’, a rare developmental birth defect characterised by abnormal slits or clefts in the brain.
Such clefts cause developmental delays, and delays in speech and language skills in a child. It can also cause seizures, and problems with brain-spinal cord communication, the plea said.
The court ordered a panel of medical experts to examine the woman and make a recommendation, according to the report.
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Last week, the Bombay court rejected a young rape victim’s request for a late-term abortion after doctors said it would be too dangerous. She was 28-weeks pregnant.
In August, another Indian court spared a young rape victim and her unborn baby from a late-term abortion for similar reasons. A medical panel ruled that the abortion would be too dangerous for the 15-year-old victim. She was 25 weeks pregnant with her unborn baby.
Increasingly, Indian courts have been granting late-term abortion exceptions to women who are victims of rape or whose unborn babies have disabilities. In cases of fetal anomalies, the courts seem to base their decisions on the unborn child’s likelihood of dying soon after birth and significant risks to the mother’s health.
In the past, the courts have refused cases where the babies had conditions that are not typically fatal, such as Down syndrome. In January, a Bombay court rejected a woman’s request for an abortion at 31 weeks because doctors said it was too risky.
LifeNews Note: File photo of unborn baby at 31 weeks.