With the family of a 12-year-old Mumbai girl set to move SC, the spotlight is back on the laws governing abortion term limits in the country
Raped and impregnated at 12, but she has to wait to see if the Supreme Court will allow her to abort as she is in her 27th week, once again putting the focus on termination of pregnancy post 20 weeks. The pregnancy came to light on Wednesday.
She is now planning to move the apex court, seeking permission to allow her daughter to abort the foetus. Also, a case under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act has been registered. The 12-year-old, who was raped around six months back, was referred to Dr Nikhil Datar, a gynaecologist who is assisting the family with legal aid for abortion.
"The family approached me on Wednesday night. After diagnosis, it was found that she was 27 weeks pregnant. In fact, even her mother didn't know about her pregnancy until a day ago," he said.
Dr Datar then informed the police and a case under the POCSO Act was registered against the culprit. He, however, refused to say anything further as the case involves a minor.
Dr Datar added, "We are waiting to procure all the legal documents before approaching the Supreme Court. The final decision will be taken by the court."
Last month, in a similar case, the court had refused permission to abort to a 10-year-old girl from Chandigarh, who had got pregnant after being raped by a relative.
Experts said abortion could be life-threatening in certain cases, depending on the individual's age and in what stage of pregnancy she was in. "Abortion for such a young child is problematic, and termination so late even riskier. It's really strange that the family members didn't realise the girl was pregnant until now," said Dr Rajal Desai, a gynaecologist from Mulund.
Dr Datar said, "I think it's too late for the child to abort; it's too risky for her. The family is very disturbed due to this."
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In the past
>> March 27: SC disallowed a 28-year-old to abort at 27 weeks. The baby was born in the first week of July with Arnold Chiari Type II syndrome, a type of structural deformation of the cerebellum and the brain stem
>> June: A 21-year-old from Chembur sought permission from the SC to abort her 24-week foetus diagnosed with aqueductal stenosis and hydrocephalus - brain abnormalities
>> January: A 24-year-old from Dombivli was allowed to abort after it was revealed that the baby suffered from anencephaly, a life-threatening condition
What the law says
As per the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, abortion is a qualified right. It can be performed only by registered medical practitioners before 12 weeks of pregnancy. In cases where the woman is more than 12 weeks, but less than 20 weeks, pregnant, the opinion of two medical practitioners is required. Under the MTP Bill, 2014, it is proposed to extend the period for abortion to 24 weeks if the pregnancy involves a risk to the mother or the child.
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