High Court in India sanctions 24-week abortion

By Dave Andrusko

The high court of the Southwestern Indian state of Kerala acceded to a father’s petition and will allow his 14-year-old daughter, who is 24 weeks pregnant, to abort. According to India Today, she “had gone missing from her home nearly five months ago and was later traced with a 28-year-old man in Mangalore. The accused was then arrested for rape…

According to the Mayo Clinic’s “Pregnancy week by week,” at 24 weeks “your baby’s skin is wrinkled, translucent and pink to red because of visible blood in the capillaries. By now your baby might be about 8 inches (210 millimeters) long from crown to rump and weigh more than 1 1/3 pounds (630 grams).”

The three judges, Gopi Manior reported, said that girl’s situation is “difficult and disheartening,” but also that she has the “right to make reproductive choices [which] is a facet of personal liberty under Article 21.”

They added in their judgment, “There are substantial risks to the life of the girl as well as to her mental health, if she is allowed to continue with her pregnancy at the young age of 14 years.”

The decision comes against a backdrop of India already posed to change “The Medical Termination of Pregnancy” Act. As we reported on January 29, the Union Cabinet of India announced that it had approved a bill that would extend the upper limit for abortions from 20 weeks to 24 weeks.

The same day, the  Hindustan Times concluded its wholly uncritical story (largely quotes from Union Minister Prakash Javadekar and from a statement), “The proposed increase in gestational age will ensure dignity, autonomy, confidentiality and justice for women who need to terminate pregnancy, stated the Union Cabinet.”

Javadekar’s justifications fall apart with even a cursory examination. India already has one of the highest abortion rates in the world (47 per 1,000 women aged 15–49).

A 2017 report in the Guttmacher Institute quoted from a study in The Lancet Global Health which found “15.6 million abortions were performed in the country in 2015.”

And India is battling sex-selective abortion which is rampant, as NRL News Today has reported on many occasions.

A report published by the Population Research Institute found that

In India, we have found that approximately 15.8 million girls have gone ‘missing’ at birth due to sex-selective abortion since 1990. Due to varying assumptions on what the expected sex ratio at birth should be in the absence of sex selection, however, the actual number of sex-selective abortions in India could range from as low as 11.1 million to as high as 20.2 million. [Underlining added.]

Moreover, as research has demonstrated repeatedly, abortion does not reduce maternal mortality. What does?

A study conducted on behalf of the Chilean Maternal Mortality Research Initiative covering 50 years of maternal mortality data (1957-2007) from Chile’s National Institute of Statistics found that “Educating women enhances women’s ability to access existing health care resources, including skilled attendants for childbirth, and directly leads to a reduction in her risk of dying during pregnancy and childbirth.”

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 will be introduced in the next session of the Parliament.