Let medical experts decide on abortion

The depth of depravity of man in Indian society has never been as chillingly portrayed as in an abortion plea before the Supreme Court for a child rape survivor barely healthy enough to go through with the pregnancy. Constrained by the letter of the law of the land that abortions are not allowed in pregnancies beyond 20 weeks except on grave medical grounds, the top court has to impose the hazards of childbirth on an innocent child thus. The judges could not allow a 32nd week termination because the medical report had it that abortion at this stage was “neither good for the mother nor the foetus”. In a similar case that came up a couple of months ago, the court allowed termination of pregnancy on the grounds that the life of the expectant mother with a 21-week foetus was in danger. The victim in that case too was 10 years old. The age of the victims is enough to send blood boiling on the bestiality of man.

The top court has accepted the suggestion that there should be regional, perhaps district-wise or hospital-specific, panels of doctors to rule on this. While the law and medical reports provide enough pointers to rule in such cases, it is the horrifying prospect of having to weigh the risks of life and death of minors that the guardians of the law must detest most. It must be emotionally draining for judges to have to take calls like this on a regular basis. The medical condition and the comparative risks of childbirth versus abortion should determine how such cases should be handled. It represents a failure of governance or lack of ability to take such decisions and stand by them that afflicts the lower rungs of bureaucracy and medical practice. There is a clear need for professionals to take these calls rather than let matters go to the judiciary.

It is a reflection on Indian society that such cases are coming up regularly these days. Are we such a sexually repressed society that man must turn into a monster? It is no comfort to know that the most cases of sexual assault and rape cases take place in India. For instance, there were over 20,000 incidents of assault or rape in 2015, which means, on an average, about 55 cases occur every day, of which a third of the victims may be minors. No amount of legislating and sentencing seems to have helped curb an abomination that has sullied the name of the nation internationally too since tourists are beginning to get warnings over safety while travelling to India. The protection of the girl child in birth alone is not sufficient anymore. Their caretakers should keep a hawk’s eye until they can be considered to have arrived at an age to make their own choices on sex.

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