Heaping tragedy upon tragedy, an India high court granted a request Saturday for a young rape victim to abort her late-term unborn baby.
India Today reports the 14-year-old girl’s father asked for a waiver from the country’s current 20-week abortion ban so that his daughter could have an abortion at 24 weeks of pregnancy.
The Kerala High Court granted permission for the 24-week abortion Saturday based on the recommendation of a panel of doctors, according to the report. The court argued that continuing the pregnancy could risk the girl’s mental and physical health.
The court decided that although the girl’s situation is “difficult and disheartening,” she also has the “right to make reproductive choices is a facet of personal liberty under Article 21.”
“There are substantial risks to the life of the girl as well as to her mental health if she is allowed to continue with her pregnancy at the young age of 14 years,” the court wrote in its decision.
However, an abortion, especially a late-term abortion, also can be very risky for the mother as well as her unborn baby. The girl, a victim of a horrible crime, deserves to be supported and cared for, but society often fails to recognize that her unborn baby is a second victim who also deserves support.
According to the report, the girl went missing approximately five months ago and recently was found with a 28-year-old man. Police said the man was arrested and charged with rape.
Initially, the girl’s father asked a lower court for permission for a late-term abortion, but he filed an appeal after the court rejected his request, according to India Legal Live.
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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 has a disability or the mother is a victim of rape.
In January, the Union Cabinet of India, which is led by the prime minister, advanced a bill that would legalize abortions for any reason up to 24 weeks.
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.
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.
Below is an image of an unborn baby at 24 weeks.