A high court in India spared a late-term unborn baby from death Wednesday when the justices rejected a mother’s request for an abortion.
The Women’s Channel reports the Calcutta High Court based its decision on the recommendation of a medical board, which advised against the abortion. The mother is at least 31-weeks pregnant with her unborn baby.
India prohibits abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. In recent years, however, courts have been granting numerous exceptions to the law for victims of rape and unborn babies with disabilities.
In late October, the mother said her unborn baby was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare defect in which the left side of the heart does not form correctly, according to the report. Most babies who are diagnosed with the disorder and have surgery early in life grow up to live long lives, according to the National Institutes of Health.
The mother told the court she wanted a late-term abortion because her baby may not survive, the report states.
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Her lawyer Saswata Sarkar said the law allows exceptions for late-term abortions when there are congenital abnormalities. He also argued that the India Constitution protects personal liberties, including a woman’s freedom to have an abortion, according to the report.
However, Justice Nizamuddin disagreed, saying the government has a duty to protect both women and children, the report states.
At 31 weeks, an unborn baby is viable outside the womb. In an abortion at this stage, the unborn baby would feel intense, excruciating pain as he or she is killed in the womb. Late-term abortions also are dangerous for mothers, and some women die along with their unborn babies.
Whether a woman gives birth or aborts her unborn baby, she still has to go through labor and delivery. The main difference is that in a late-term abortion, the unborn baby is killed first.
A late-term abortion typically involves injecting a poisonous potassium chloride solution through the woman’s stomach into the baby’s heart, causing pain to the baby as the poison stops his/her heart. A few days later, labor is induced and the woman delivers her dead baby’s body.
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.