The Bombay (Mumbai) High Court has declined a plea by a 25-weeks pregnant woman to allow her to abort her unborn child as the foetus was believed to have a congenital heart problem. Read the latest news articles about this in this link. Read about the abortion law in India in this link. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act forbids abortions after the 20th week unless there is a serious risk to the life of the mother.
The Bombay (Mumbai) High Court . . .
What is sad about this case is that a court has to decide the fate of an unborn child, instead of its mother. What is worse is that the law has no provision to provide an exception in such scenarios, though this case and the medical, legal and ethical debate it has triggered may lead to the law being amended to provide for exceptions in the future.
About the case itself, the doctors of the couple say that the child would find it difficult to survive and even if it does, it will have to be fitted with a pacemaker that has to be replaced every four years. The mother does not want her child to suffer, even if the government takes care of the medical expenses of the child. The couple have even rejected an offer by an NGO to help raise the child. The court had appointed an “expert team” of doctors to look into the details of the case and based on the team’s report, has concluded that there are “least chances” that the foetus would be born with an abnormality.
Did the court take the correct decision in passing the verdict? Should the mother appeal the decision of the Bombay (Mumbai) High Court in the Supreme Court of India? Should India’s abortion law be amended? Have your say in this tough ethical, medical and legal debate by posting a comment below, even if you are not from India.
An important post update (August 7, 2008):
The “expert team” appointed by the court made an “error” that decided the court’s verdict. Read this news report. According to the team of doctors, “The committee is of the opinion that there are very fair chances that child will be born incapacitated and handicapped to survive.”
But according to the official report presented to the court, “The committee is of the opinion that there are very least chances that child will be born incapacitated and handicapped to survive.”
Very fair chances got replaced by very least chances in the official report of the “expert team” and the court’s decision was based on the “official report” of the “expert team”. Did I not say the law is an ass? We have proof now! I don’t know if the verdict would have been different if the “error” had not happened.
An update (August 31, 2008):
I’m sorry for this late update. This sad chapter is now closed as the unfortunate woman suffered a miscarriage. Read this news report if you want more information. The husband has blamed the media for unnecessarily hyping up the issue which led to hypertension (high blood pressure) that caused the miscarriage. I tend to agree with him.