Tuesday, August 05, 2008

To Abort or not to Abort

I happened to watch News yesterday on TV, and every single channel was showing how Niketa Mehta will have to become mother now as Bombay High Court has rejected her plea to abort the child. The law allows a child to be aborted till 20th week and no further. What every Channel wanted to know was whether it should be the prerogative of the mother to choose to give birth or abort the child? My first reaction was - Of course!
But then on second thoughts, the law against abortion was made to safeguard the interests of girl child in India. Female foeticide is already one of the major concerns for our country.

The couple did a commendable thing in choosing to go the legal way; otherwise I’m sure there are hoardes of people who do it discreetly. And now there would not be any going back. They might choose to appeal to Supreme Court, but with every passing day, Niketa is putting herself into more danger because aborting the child so late puts the mother in utmost danger.

The case is already splashed across all media, so I would not get into the details. I have few observations though:
In today’s paper I read a quote by one of the Medico-Legal experts, Dr Lalit Kapoor – “No one wants imperfect children. Everyone wants a perfect baby. So there is always fear that more couples may want to seek such late abortions”.

Very true indeed. All of us want healthy, cute babies. But there are some parents who are unfortunate to have children with deformities, and then they have to be their support systems throughout their lives. Nobody wants that kind of life – for themselves as well as for their children.

When you know your child will have to depend on others for the rest of their lives, do you still go ahead with the child. Personally, I don’t think so. It is not only about dependency. It is also psychologically defeating for the person to live such life. If something happens to the parents, then who will take responsibility of the child? Is it same as Mercy killing? Possibly. One of the channels showed the responses of some poll. One of them said – “he would not want his mother to have that kind of decision power on his life.” But you say that when you do not have any deformity or dependency. What will you say when you are born an invalid. You will solely blame your parents, for letting him go through such kind of miserable life.

Some societies / groups have come forward to accept the responsibility of the child. But I am not sure if the parents would like to do so. It is not a clear moral issue. It is a practical issue. If they know they have a child, they would not like to give it away, but knowing that they are not capable to handle a situation which may arise, has prompted them to file such an unusual case.

I am not saying that the High Court was wrong in addressing the issue, in the way it did. I am saying what is the way forward to such an issue? The court in a way was right in its judgment, because -
§ The J.J. Hospital report says that there is a “rare” chance of the baby to suffer from the heart disorder
§ The mother is at risk for aborting the child at this stage
§ The child has the right to live
§ There are groups who are ready to take responsibility of the child or provide financial aid to the parents

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