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Abortion window closing on pregnant Bareilly teen rape survivor

india Updated: Sep 10, 2016 14:54 IST
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A 14-year-old Bareilly teen sought to abort her pregnancy, the result of a rape. However, medical experts say she has crossed the legal limit of 26 weeks, the period within which an abortion can be done.(Sachin Saini/HT Photo)

Despite doctors raising doubts over a possible termination of pregnancy of a 32-week pregnant teenage rape survivor in Bareilly, her father is unwilling to accept this reality yet.

Medical terms like ‘advanced pregnancy’ and ‘developed features’ are beyond the comprehension of the 44-year-old man who can neither read nor write. “We only want to terminate the pregnancy but the entire system is unable to do it,” said the girl’s father, giving vent to his anger at the repeated delay and denials to the request for medical termination of pregnancy (MTP).

He is also worried about the future of his daughter and his family. “The society we live in will never accept that child or my daughter after the birth. People will ostracise my family. Nobody will give us work and we will be forced to beg for a living,” he said.

“I will not rest till that child is separated from my daughter. I will not let that life destroy my family,” said the man who is planning to submit an application in court to seek help in placing the child for adoption. “My daughter is a child herself. She is not ready to give birth to a baby which will only harm her,” he added.

Read | UP ‘rape victim’ awaits medical test result on request to end pregnancy

Even as her family awaits a report from the district hospital in Bareilly, experts in Lucknow have said pre-term delivery is the only option.

“There is no question of medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) or abortion in this case as the pregnancy has crossed 26 weeks,” said Dr Neelam Singh, gynaecologist and head of a voluntary group Vatsalya in the state capital.

Hindustan Times spoke to leading gynaecologists who said MTP was not possible in such a case. They said abortion was considered usually if the pregnancy had not crossed 20 weeks or the weight of the foetus was below 500 grams. In this case, the weight was one kilogram, hence the child had the right to be born, the experts said.

“The option in hand is pre-term delivery even if there are complications or congenital deformities of the heart,” said Prof SP Jaiswar, senior faculty at King George’s Medical University and secretary, Lucknow Obstetrics and Gynaecology Society.

Read | Time running out for 14-year-old rape survivor seeking abortion

In a similar case that came up in 2015 in Lucknow, a minor rape survivor had delivered the child after an expert committee of the King George’s Medical University examined her and ruled out abortion.

The committee formed on the court directives had examined the rape survivor. The panel finally concluded that abortion in 32 or 33 weeks of pregnancy is not possible. They had then recommended a pre-term or full term delivery for the minor girl stating that abortion was not possible after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

“The foetus is capable of independent survival after 26 weeks of pregnancy. Hence, there is no question of abortion,” said Prof Jaiswar, speaking about the Bareilly rape survivor case.

Experts said pre-term delivery too is decided upon by a few factors such as risk to the mother. If there was no risk, then full-term delivery is favoured. “A full grown child has all the right to survive and abortion at this stage will be killing (it),” said Dr Rama Srivastava, member of the federation of obstetric and gynaecological societies of India.

Also read | Maharashtra rape survivor stable after SC allows abortion of 24-week foetus