The abortion petition for the 13 year old rape victim in Mumbai is expected to be filed this week. Many doctors have already voiced their opinion that more importance should be given to the victim’s life than the foetus, reports The Hindu.

‘Carrying baby to full term may be riskier for minor’

The recent case in which the Supreme Court disallowed the 10 year old rape victim from Chandigarh to terminate pregnancy since it may be risk to her life is fresh in public memory.

Doctors opine that for a minor, carrying the baby to full term may be riskier compared to terminating pregnancy when the foetus is smaller.

As gynecologist Nikhil Datar says, “There is absolutely no dearth of data to show that such pregnancies are detrimental to the girl’s physical and mental health. But there is a myth that termination at 27 or 28 weeks is risky.”  According to the doctor, the risk could at best be equated with that of delivery.

“There is a simple logic. How can the trauma be less for the girl who is made to deliver a full-term baby when her vaginal passage and the pelvic capacity will remain the same? Won’t it be easier for her to terminate the pregnancy when the foetus is much smaller?,” he asks.

One key difference is that while the girl may go into natural labor at full term, for termination, medicine would be administered. “But when the risk remains the same, why make the young girl suffer from the mental trauma of childbirth?,” is another question that Dr. Datar asks.

The victim’s pregnancy came to light last week

The Mumbai rape victim’s pregnancy was revealed last week once she was referred to Dr.Dattar. He informed the police about the same.

The girl was sent for medical examination to the State-run JJ hospital. The Dindoshi police registered an FIR under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act against unknown persons. The police arrested the culprit the very next day- someone employed by the girl’s father.

The girl was 27 weeks pregnant by this time. Her family informed the police that they assumed it could be thyroid or some such disorder which was causing her to put on weight.

As per the Medical Termination of Pregnancy(MTP) Act, abortion would be allowed up to 20 weeks. A draft amendment to the Act permits termination up to 24 weeks, provided there’s substantial risk to the child or the mother. Termination is also allowed at any stage if the foetus is diagnosed with substantial abnormalities.

According to Dr. Sangeeta Pikale, terminating the pregnancy in view of the risk to mother’s life would be the right thing to do. “I would look at it as an act of self-defence by the victim,” says Dr. Pikale.

For some reason, she says, the idea of giving justice to the victim is missing.

Pushing people to seek the illegal route

As per experts, at 14 weeks, a cervical dilation of at least 2 cm is needed. At 28 weeks, a 6 to 7 cm dilation would be required. For delivering a full-term baby, the required dilation would be around 10 cm. According to doctors, since the victim is too young, scarring of the uterus will happen. And the larger the foetus, the more the chances of heavy pain, bleeding and tears.

The Hindu also quotes yet another doctor who didn’t wish to be named. According to him, one concern is that medical opinion in such cases come from academic heads of institutes. These people usually follow a traditional mode of thinking. “By denying the victim permission to terminate legally, the judiciary is pushing hundreds of others to seek the illegal route,” he said.

With inputs from The Hindu

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