A court in India granted a young rape victim’s petition for a late-term abortion this week, despite doctors’ warnings about serious risks to the teen’s health.
The Hindustan Times reports the 16-year-old rape victim and her father asked the Delhi High Court for permission to have a late-term abortion after doctors said the girl was 22-weeks pregnant, past the abortion cutoff.
Abortions are illegal after 20 weeks of pregnancy in India. However, women and families increasingly have been petitioning the courts for permission to abort late-term unborn babies because of rape or fetal abnormalities.
The court ordered a medical panel to examine the teen, and the panel concluded that an abortion at that stage would carry a high risk of “mortality” and “morbidity,” according to the report. Despite this, the court ruled in favor of the abortion.
In a special hearing on Saturday, the medical board comprising a gynecologist and a psychiatrist informed the court that the relative risk was much higher than an abortion at eight weeks.
“….This risk has been explained to the petitioner as well as her father, both of whom are adamant that the pregnancy should be terminated,” the court said in its order.
The single-judge bench noted that Sanjay Agarwal, director professor of psychiatry, had interacted with the rape victim and found that the unwanted pregnancy was causing “considerable amount of distress” to her.
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“He (Agarwal) is further of the view that carrying the pregnancy further poses a risk to her well being and would continue to cause much distress to the petitioner. This risk is enhanced considering the allegation that the conception was a result of a rape,” the court said.
The teen allegedly was raped repeatedly by a married man who told her he was divorced and “like her husband,” according to the report. Police said they are investigating.
Last week, a court in Madras also gave an 11-year-old rape victim permission to have a late-term abortion.
A late-term abortion is a very risky, multiple day procedure that can kill the mother as well as her unborn baby.
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.