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Pune Speak Up: A stitch in time

Thursday, 7 August 2014 - 10:21am IST | Place: Pune | Agency: dna

NGO seeks abortion time extension from 20 to 28 weeks, dna asks readers is there any harm in allowing abortion after 20 weeks till 28 weeks, in case of severe foetal abnormalities or to protect health of pregnant woman?

Need a valid reason
If the patient is under the care of a good doctor, well trained in advance stages of pregnancy, who is of opinion that there are severe foetal abnormalities or health risk to pregnant mother then there is no harm in going for abortion. Provided that such cases are monitored by an ethics committee, which takes the decision in case there is a definite risk. Parents who are taking such decisions with a valid reason have to go through legal procedure and provide various medical tests to prove. However, in India there is a risk of laws being manipulated. So when we are legalizing abortion till 28 weeks, we have to seriously see what is the reason behind such cases. For example if couples give the reason of contraceptive failure for unwanted pregnancy and go for abortion, how do you judge such cases. So there can be many loopholes and it is very necessary there are strict laws and an ethics committee for screening such cases. There will be anti-abortion people who will raise questions about right to live, but want an abnormal child become a burden to parents and society.
Dr Rajendra Sathe, Clinical Sexologist & Sex Counsellor

Medical condition should be taken in to account
There are two main reasons for which a pregnancy is terminated, unwanted pregnancy and pregnancy for a serious congenital defect. I believe that abortion after the 20th week should be allowed in the case of a serious congenital defect. Ultimately, the responsibility of raising a child rests with the parents, so it should be up to them and the medical profession to decide whether to terminate the pregnancy or not. Some social activists might argue that abortion of a foetus that has progressed past 20 weeks might be unethical due to the fact that a 20 week old foetus is a viable foetus and some groups might call it a murder. But that will be a case of such organisations pushing their own ethical choices onto parents who may not be willing to accept the responsibilities that come with a serious congenital defect.
Dr Abhay Bang, Director, Society for Education Action and Research in Community

It should not be allowed
I do not advocate a blanket ban on terminating pregnancies post 20 weeks, but such decisions should be taken with extreme care and in cases with serious congenital defects to the foetus. It certainly cannot be allowed in cases where there is significant risk to the mother. The parents should be allowed to consult expert medical opinion and check the risk factor. If the congenital defect means that the baby would be born with serious anomalies, then it should be upto the parents to decide whethe to abort or continue with the pregnancy.
Rama Sarode, Lawyer & Human Rights Activist

Not safe option
I believe that terminating a pregnancy after 20 weeks is not absolutely safe to the mother if the foetus becomes viable. Also, late abortions lead to a question of whether it is being done in order to abort a female foetus. In a country like India, people have been known to use medical reasons for sex-selective abortions. The corruption in India has led to cases of records being tampered with for female foeticide. But if a congenital defect in the foetus means a life-threatening situation for the mother, then it should definitely be aborted. Because the mother's health is as important as the child. In case it is safe for the mother, then an abortion after 20 weeks (till upto 28 weeks) should be done with extreme caution, the mother should be analysed psychologically in order to determine whether she's genuinely concerned about the baby being born with abnormalities or she is being pressurised to abort, especially in the case of a girl child.
Shubha Shamim, State General Secretary, Working Women Coordination Committee

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