A very young rape survivor and her unborn baby will be the victims of more violence after an Indian court granted a request this week for a late-term abortion.
The News Minute reports the 11-year-old girl’s mother asked the Madras High Court for an exception to the country’s late-term abortion ban. This week, the court granted it after a panel of doctors identified risks to the girl’s health if she carries her unborn baby to term.
The judges said they made the ruling with a “heavy heart.” Abortions are illegal after 20 weeks of pregnancy in India. However, women and families increasingly have been petitioning the high court for permission to abort late-term unborn babies because of rape or fetal abnormalities.
The girl allegedly was raped by a relative, and is 24 weeks pregnant with her unborn baby, according to the report.
Here’s more from the report:
While ruling in favour of the petitioner’s plea, the court also directed for the foetus to be preserved for medical examination and DNA test in the criminal case registered against the nephew. He has been booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and remanded to judicial custody.
The court had ordered the Dean of Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai to form a medical board and examine the girl. The doctors filed the report which said that continuing the pregnancy could put the child at risks like anaemia, pregnancy induced hypertension, pre-term labour and a caesarean section at the time of delivery.
Apart from a risky second trimester, the board also pointed out to the court that there was increased morbidity risk for the mother and child both.
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However, a late-term abortion also is a very risky, multiple day procedure that can kill the mother as well as her unborn baby.
It is unclear if the girl is fully aware of the situation or wants an abortion. Though there is no indication of coercion in the reports, sometimes parents of young girls pressure or even force their daughters to have abortions. In 2017, another Indian family requested a late-term abortion for their 10-year-old daughter, also a victim of rape, without her knowledge. The court did not grant their request in that case.
Courts in India have heard a number of requests for late-term abortions from families of young rape victims recently. 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.
Rape is an awful crime of violence committed against a woman or girl, but an abortion does not erase the violence or heal the pain. It just ends the life of a second victim of the crime, an unborn baby.
Research by the Elliot Institute found that between 75 percent to 85 percent of pregnant rape victims do not have abortions. Of those who did, many felt pressured or coerced to abort their unborn babies. And in many cases, the women who had abortions felt victimized again by the invasive abortion procedure.
Picture of unborn baby at 24 weeks appears below.