The law is an ass!

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 . . .


Image: Wikimedia Commons

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.

Related post:

Abortion – women’s rights or human rights?

This entry was posted in abortion, Bombay, Bombay (Mumbai) High Court, child rights, children, choice, congenital heart defect, culture, disease, Earthlings, equality, ethics, family, foetal rights, gender, health, human rights, humanity, India, justice, law, life, Maharashtra, medicine, mother, MTP Act, Mumbai, news, NGO, pregnancy, random, rights, society, South Asia, thoughts, women, women's rights, world and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The law is an ass!

  1. vishesh says:

    first of all dont you think it is quite odd for this to be discussed by the media so openly? I mean isn’t our country supposed to be so called traditional? everyone has a opinion on this one…i would have asked the judge this,if i give you a son,which you don’t what will you do ?

  2. Good comment, Vishesh. I think it is good that this issue is discussed openly in the media. If being “traditional” means clinging on to nonsensical practices, I am glad that those “traditions” are being thrown out of the window!

    However, I feel that the media should show some restraint when it comes to respecting the couple’s privacy. That is why I have not named the couple. This issue is about the law and not about one woman.

  3. sakhi says:

    Yes, law is ****! judge in question didn’t have a backbone to give a ruling where it could have been a deviatin from the norm… poor child and poor parents… what agony is more than seeing and knowing that your own child is not going to survive even if it is born!

    Sad, sad!

  4. wpm1955 says:

    Raj,

    I read the entire law at the link you provided, as abortion is a subject I am extremely interested in. While never having had an abortion myself, I was an extreme supporter of abortion rights in my youth. Since going through pregnancy, and becoming a mother, my viewpoint has changed (something I could never have imagined before I was a parent). The main thing that changed my viewpoint was looking back at my four-and-a-half month ultrasound when my daughter was about a year old.

    An an older mother (38 at the time of my pregnancy) I was counseled to have an ultrasound and genetic testing (such as was available 15 years ago). I thought if there was any problem, I would just have an abortion. Luckily there was no problem. They cannot do proper tests for most developmental problems until four-and-a-half months have passed. After getting the ultrasound, the pictures of the fetus didn’t look like much to me. But after my daughter was born, and I became accustomed to looking at her face a lot (over one year), I later looked back at those ultrasound pictures. I had the shock of my life–I was able to recognize her facial features PERFECTLY, even at that age.

    Never having suffered a miscarriage, I would say that any woman who loses a baby after the fifth month is going to feel like she lost her BABY, not like she lost her fetus. And many women who miscarry even in the first trimester have these feelings.

    Anyway, what my feeling on this is that having read the Indian law in detail, I feel it is just about right. It is not going to please the people who are entirely anti-abortion, but I really feel that if an abortion is to be done, it should be ONLY during the first two months (if possible). I see that when it can be done in the second trimester (in India) the reasons have 99 percent to do with saving the mother’s life (in other words, abortion can be performed for reasons that are life-threatening to the mother).

    I do believe that in this case you have written about, the congenital heart defect reason IS a sufficient reason to have an abortion, and the longer it goes on in the courts, the more chance the BABY (instead of the fetus) is being killed.

    I personally believe in reincarnation, and there have now been a number of cases where children remember having been aborted in the womb. You can read about some serious recounting of these cases in Carol Bowman’s “Return from Heaven: Beloved Relatives Reincarnated within Your Family.” In some cases, aborted children can return to another fetus in the same family; in other cases, to the family of a close relative. Some children who remember the abortion ARE upset about it; others are not, and come back in a different body matter-of-factly.

    I do believe that cosmically, abortion is permissible, but if it is going to be done, it should be done as early as possible. There are many books now recounting past-life research (in English), and those that deal with this issue show that in MOST cases, the future soul does not join with the fetus yet in the first trimester. Sometimes the soul moves in an out of the fetus, and in a few cases, does join in the first trimester. Most cases show the soul joining the body anywhere from a few weeks before birth, to just before birth in some cases (as the body is quite a restrictive environment for the soul).

    What is most sad about cases like you have written about here is that often severe defects CANNOT be discovered in the first trimester, and by the time they are discovered, the abortion is much more traumatic for both mother and child.

    For any society who chooses to make abortion laws TOO strict, women will resort to back-alley abortions. I remember those days in America, before reasonable abortion laws were passed. I think for the most part, India’s law is pretty reasonable.

    Madame Monet
    Writing, Painting, Music, and Wine
    winewriter.wordpress.com

  5. axinia says:

    We had a bit similar case recently here in Austria – only the parents refused to abort the child (the baby was said to be born invalid) – and then the parents did something very special: they make the INBORN baby claim🙂
    It mean they sue in the name of the child which is not yet born…
    The case is still going on, there is no final decision yet.

  6. 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.

  7. Sakhi,

    I guess you wrote that comment as a mother and not just as a doctor. I agree with you that it is would be very sad for the parents to see the child struggle after birth and then die😥
    —————————————————————————-
    Mme. Monet,

    Thanks a lot for sharing your views on this post!

    India is famous for many laws that are stupid, outrageous and disgusting. The MTP is an exception. I too believe India’s abortion law is quite reasonable because it allows a married woman to abort a foetus without the consent of her husband. Adult women too can abort without the consent of anyone else. Also, late abortions are permitted if it endangers the life of the mother. On the whole, the MTP act would seem okay to any reasonable person.

    I agree with you that it would be not possible to spot severe defects during the first trimester and aborting after the first trimester would be more traumatic for both the mother and child. But I feel the law should provide for an exception in cases like this where a congenital defect can be clearly spotted, but more importantly, because the mother herself wants an abortion.

    Thanks for mentioning the book. I’ll try to read about scientific research on reincarnation and the soul getting united with the body.
    —————————————————————————-
    Axinia,

    India is very different from a country like Austria. Austria is a social democracy with the state itself providing the best possible free medical care in most cases. Also Austria’s would have laws which would ensure that there would be no discrimination against differently abled persons.

    India was a mixed economy (mixed-up economy?) that is moving towards “free market capitalism” without adopting the checks and balances that are required for a “free market capitalist economy”. India’s state healthcare system is in a shambles except in a few places. Private healthcare is expensive, though it is not always the best. Very few people have medical insurance in India.

    Also, it is only now that laws that empower the differently abled are being framed but corrupt, greedy people don’t follow such norms even where they exist.

    It is very interesting to learn about the case that you mentioned in Austria. I too feel, that if a mother wants to have the baby even if it is going to be born with a defect, she should be allowed to do so!
    —————————————————————————-
    I get the strange feeling that I may be misunderstood. I hope no one misunderstands my views on abortion. I am not pro-abortion by any stretch of the imagination. I am pro-choice, with the choice being an informed one that is made only by the mother and not anyone else!

  8. girljordyn says:

    I disagree. That is disgusting.

  9. 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.

  10. Girljordyn,

    Thanks for expressing your disagreement. But what exactly do you disagree with?

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