An Indian court told a 10-year-old girl, who is six months pregnant after she was allegedly raped by her uncle, that she is “too young” to get an abortion.
According to the Chandigarh District Court, an abortion was “not an option at this stage,” as she was too far into her pregnancy. It ruled that the rape survivor should carry the pregnancy to term based on a medical advice given by the Government Medical College and Hospital in Chandigarh, where the girl was examined.
Sources at the hospital told the Hindustan Times that they were planning to take up the matter of putting the unborn child up for adoption with the Missionary of Charity.
The girl’s parents discovered their child was pregnant after she complained to them about stomach pains. They found out that she had been raped six times, allegedly by her maternal uncle. Her father is a government employee; mother works as domestic help.
The accused man has been arrested on the basis of a formal complaint filed by the victim’s mother.
As per the 1971 Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, Indian courts do not allow termination of pregnancies beyond 20 weeks if the fetus is viable, which means it is a separate entity at this stage, almost that of another person separate from the mother. The girl, in this case, is 30 weeks pregnant.
An eight-member committee of doctors, from pediatricians to psychiatrists, examined the girl, and a senior member of the panel of doctors said that ultrasound scan “showed she is 30 weeks pregnant. We evaluated the girl very critically and recommended a natural delivery because the fetus is viable and can survive even if delivered now.”
“Abortion is not an option at this stage. The only way to terminate the pregnancy is to deliver the baby.”
However, other medical experts insist that the pelvic bones are not fully developed in girls at such a tender age, so tolerating a full-term pregnancy is very risky. While normal delivery is ruled out, even a Cesarean section at that age is dangerous.
“In almost 40 years of practice, I have never come across such a case. I had seen a 13-year-old girl pregnant. If legal permission is granted treating it as an exceptional case, it’s better to terminate the pregnancy as there can be complications,” said Dr. Umesh Jindal, a well-known gynecologist and a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
The girl has the option to appeal to a higher court seeking termination of her pregnancy, but that would actually take a longer period of time to get an order than the term of the pregnancy.
This, however, is not the first case of its kind in the region. In May, another 10-year-old girl, who was between 18 and 22 weeks pregnant, was allowed an abortion by a local court.
Official government data shows there were almost 35,000 rapes reported in India in 2015 — about 95 every day that year, CBS News reported.
[Featured Image by Shutterstock]