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Why not play God if we can

india Updated: Apr 03, 2009 15:18 IST
Aditya Ghosh

Once upon a time, Zeus caused lightning, Vitumnus gave life to children in the womb and Nekhbet was responsible for life and death. Now, silver iodide causes artificial rain, water can be obtained from Mars and childbirth is no longer left to the mercy of Gods.

Doctors argue: Can we choose God over a pacemaker? Or leave a sore appendicitis to heal itself? Or refuse the insulin shots in diabetes and wait for divine intervention?

If these are not infringing God’s rights, why cannot Niketa Mehta aborting her 25-week-old foetus be considered a prerogative of medical science?

“It is a question of autonomy, and whether that autonomy is beneficial and non-maleficent. It is perfectly safe for the mother too. Most important: whether it is a wanted child or an unwanted one,” said in-vitro fertilisation expert Anirudh Malpani.

Why not play God if we can, ask seniors in the profession. “She should not have gone to the courts,” a senior obstetrician from Kolkata not willing to be named, adding medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) can be done after 20th week if two specialists recommend it. MTP can also be done at any stage if safety of the mother is in jeopardy.

He claims this to be a perfect case where speed of technology has beaten our policies hands-down.

"When MTP Act was formulated in 1971, we had no idea that some day we would know so much about the foetus's development. Courts did their job of adhering to the law. We scientists get a kick by offering options to a patient. If that is playing god, so be it," he said, admitting: "Archaic laws sound us like god, but we are just scientists and would remain so."