Government leaders in India are pushing to expand the killing of unborn babies in their nation.
The Hindustan Times reports the Union Cabinet of India, which is led by the prime minister, approved a bill Wednesday to legalize abortions up to 24 weeks.
Currently, abortions are legal up to 20 weeks throughout India. Lately, however, courts have been granting a large number of exceptions for late-term abortions if the unborn baby is disabled or the mother is a victim of rape.
The legislation, known as the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill 2020, would amend the country’s 1971 abortion law, expanding elective abortions beyond viability, which is now about 22 weeks, according to the report.
The legislation is scheduled to be introduced in parliament later this year, according to the India Times.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar defended the abortion expansion Wednesday at a press conference. He claimed the legislation would provide better “reproductive rights” to women and reduce maternal mortality.
“In a progressive reform and giving reproductive rights to women the limit of 20 weeks of medical termination of pregnancy has been increased to 24 weeks,” Javadekar said. “This is important because in the first 5 months there are cases where the girl concerned doesn’t realize and has to go to court. … This will reduce maternal mortality.”
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Neither claim is true. Expanding late-term abortions could further jeopardize women’s rights in India, where women already are abused and oppressed at an alarming rate. Though illegal, sex-selection abortions are a huge problem, and baby girls are frequently the targets. In 2018, the Government of India estimated that 63 million women are missing from its population due to sex-selection abortions, infanticide and other discriminatory violence.
In July, birth data from the Uttarkashi district in northern India revealed that not a single girl had been born in the district in a three-month period. Local authorities blamed sex-selection abortions.
Expanding abortions to 24 weeks will only hurt women more, born and unborn. To combat maternal mortality, Indian leaders should invest in better health care for pregnant mothers, not expand late-term abortions. Even abortion activists acknowledge that late-term abortions are risky for the mother. Women have been permanently injured or died along with their unborn babies in late-term abortions.
Research also confirms that legalized abortion does not reduce the maternal mortality rate. A 2012 study conducted on behalf of the Chilean Maternal Mortality Research Initiative analyzed 50 years of maternal mortality data (1957-2007) from Chile’s National Institute of Statistics. The analysis found that the most important factor in reducing maternal mortality is health education.
India has some of the highest abortion numbers in the world. Approximately 15.6 million unborn babies were aborted in the country in 2015, according to the Guttmacher Institute. If the bill passes parliament, the country could see even more destruction of innocent lives.