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06 / 08 / 2008 - Indian Court Rejects Woman`s Request to Abort Her 25 Week Old Unborn Baby
In a judgement that could have far reaching implications for the abortion debate in India, the Mumbai (Bombay) High Court, on Monday, denied permission to a woman who wanted to abort her 25 week old unborn child, saying the law does not permit such late-term abortions.
Niketa and Haresh Mehta asked for a court ruling after Niketa's gynecologist told them that the baby had a congenital heart problem and would need a pacemaker, which they could not afford. Doctors refused to abort the child citing India's abortion law.
Abortions are legal in India until the 12th week of pregnancy. Between 12 and 20 weeks abortions are allowed if either the mother or the baby faces a health risk.
The High Court said that it was up to Parliament and not the court to change the provisions of Indian law, known as the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, which specifies that an abortion after 20 weeks can only take place if the mother faces a grave medical risk.
The court heard from a committee of doctors who assessed the evidence given by the gynecologist as to the risks if the baby was allowed to be born, as well as the risks to the mother if an abortion was allowed.
The committee told the court yesterday that they found little evidence the child would suffer serious problems. They also testified that the mother could be at risk if she had an abortion at such an advanced stage of pregnancy.
"There is no medical evidence on record to say that the child will be handicapped after birth," wrote Justices RMS Khandeparkar and Amjad Sayed in their decision. "The petitioners have not made out that this lady's case is exceptional for us to use discretionary powers."
"The court has opined that the medical expert body, which was directed to submit a report, has submitted that the child will not be a permanent disabled as contemplated," Rajendra Raghuvanshi, Additional Solicitor General for Mumbai, told reporters outside the court.
The case, seen as a challenge to the 37-year-old MTP Act, has been followed closely by the Indian media and has brought the ethical debate about sex-selective abortion to the forefront in a country where illegal abortion of female children is common.
A BBC report on the situation said that an unnamed group had offered to look after the baby if it was born with defects, but the Mehtas turned down the proposal.
Jayesh Kamath, a member of the Indian Medical Association, described the court's verdict as a victory. "Children with pacemakers can lead full lives," he said in an Associated Press report. "If this case was accepted, then people could abort babies on any ground."
Source : Thaddeus M. Baklinski - LifeSiteNews.com
Archbishop of Bombay asks parents not to abort unborn child with heart defect
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay, on Sunday appealed to a couple seeking legal permission to abort their unborn child due to its congenital heart defect, asking them to stop seeking legal permission to abort the 25-week-old fetus. Cardinal Gracias promised that the Church would take care of the baby if it were allowed to be born.
In the most recent development, a court in Mumbai on Tuesday rejected parents Niketa and Haresh Mehta’s petition to be allowed to have an abortion, the BBC News reports.
Under India’s laws, abortions are not permitted after 20 weeks into a pregnancy unless it poses a threat to the life of the mother. The Mhetas’ case is considered a key test of India’s abortion law.
The Mumbai High Court called together a committee of doctors to assess the risks if the pregnancy continued and also the risks if an abortion was performed on the woman. The doctors held that there was a lesser chance of the baby being born without a handicap, while a late-term abortion would be risky for the mother.
The Mehtas’ doctor told the court that certain ailments could be only detected between the 20th and 24th weeks of pregnancy. The couple also argued that their child would need a pacemaker from birth and would not be able to lead a normal life.
They also said the cost for a $2,500 pacemaker operation might not be affordable for them, as the pacemaker must be changed every few years.
Cardinal Gracias offered the Church’s help to the couple on Sunday and condemned all abortions, continuing his activities from earlier this year, the India Catholic says.
In a January interview, the cardinal endorsed a U.N. moratorium on abortion, saying in an interview “It is an utmost necessity that the international community is sensitized to creating and building a culture of life. Abortion is a horrendous evil and has become a threat to human dignity because it directly attacks life itself.”
Source : CNA