Ignoring a recommendation by medical experts, a court in India gave a teenage girl permission Tuesday to abort her unborn baby after the country’s 20-week abortion limit.
According to the New Indian Express, the 17-year-old girl is a rape victim who is 25-weeks pregnant with her unborn child.
Recently, her father petitioned the Bombay High Court for permission for his daughter to have a late-term abortion, the report states. He argued that his daughter’s physical and mental health are at risk if she carries her unborn baby to term.
On Tuesday, the Bombay High Court granted the family’s request, the report states. In doing so, the judges ignored the unborn baby’s value as well as the recommendation of a group of doctors who advised against the abortion.
According to the report, the recommendation came from medical experts at KEM Hospital after the court instructed them to examine the girl and make a recommendation about her abortion request.
The board in its report advised against termination and said if the pregnancy is continued, a healthy baby could be delivered and the petitioner and her family could then decide if they want to care for the baby or put him/her up for adoption.
The board said the petitioner should be able to take care of the baby with psychological support and counseling.
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The judges disagreed, arguing that the pregnancy, because it was the result of rape, is “causing grave injury” to the teen’s mental health. Supposedly, the court believes aborting her unborn baby would relieve that suffering – though there are well-established mental health risks associated with abortions. Late-term abortions also pose greater risks to the mother’s physical health.
The judges did include a provision in their order to protect the baby if he/she is born alive. They ordered that the baby receive medical care and, if the girl and her family do not want the baby, the state will take custody, according to the report.
Police in Vakola, Mumbai said the man accused of raping the teen is being prosecuted.
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 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.
Below is an ultrasound image of a baby before birth at 25 weeks.