A high court in India allowed tragedy after tragedy this week when it gave permission for the late-term unborn baby of a 13-year-old rape victim to be aborted.
The Indian Express reports the girl is about 23-weeks pregnant with her unborn baby, and she allegedly was raped by her father.
The girl’s mother recently filed a petition for a late-term abortion for her daughter after learning that the girl was pregnant, according to the report. It is not clear if the girl wants the abortion or even understands what an abortion is or what the risks are.
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.
According to the report, the Bombay High Court granted the mother’s petition for an exception to the law after a medical board at JJ Hospital examined the girl.
The medical board advised the court: “At 23 weeks of gestation, termination of pregnancy carries risk to pregnant minor. Also, continuation of pregnancy will have physical and mental stress to minor. Hence, it is advisable to terminate the pregnancy at a convenient hospital of her choice.”
Based upon that recommendation, the court agreed to allow the abortion. Interestingly, however, according to the report, the justices also advised that, if the baby is born alive, the hospital should take “all necessary” steps to try to “save the child’s life.” Babies now are viable around 22 weeks of pregnancy.
An abortion, especially a late-term abortion, can be 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.
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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 in India.
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.
Image below shows a 23-week-old unborn baby.