Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The Supreme Court of India granted a 14-year-old rape victim the right to abort her child, which was the result of rape. Under Indian law, abortion beyond 20 weeks is not allowed. The girl is said to be 25 weeks pregnant. Her rapist, Jatin Mehta, is a doctor and is already in prison.
After the High Court of Gujarat turned down an application for abortion, the girl’s parents turned to India’s highest court. The latter ruled that if there is a "serious threat" to her life in case the foetus is not aborted, then the surgeons and the clinical experts can together take a decision on termination of her pregnancy. While issuing its notice on the plea, the court also said that in case of abortion, a DNA test should be done on the foetus to help in the criminal trial against the rapist.
"Our hearts go out to this young teenager, who is a victim of the violence of an unjust aggressor,” Dr Pascoal Carvalho, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, told AsiaNews. However, “to take the life of an innocent unborn child is also an unjust aggression against the child.” In Ahmedabad, "the Sisters of Mother Teresa run a home called Nirmala Shishu Bhavan, where they could welcome the baby.”
Speaking to AsiaNews, Mgr Dominic Savio Fernandes, auxiliary bishop of Mumbai and president of the Episcopal Commission for the family in the Western Region, calls for careful consideration of the major issues at hand, namely rape and abortion. Here are his thoughts.
Rape is a sin against the Sixth Commandment. For a survivor of a rape attack, it is always a very traumatic, painful and a humiliating experience. There is a feeling of tremendous loathing and revulsion towards a rapist within the survivor because of being violated and desecrated by him.
This pain, humiliation and revulsion are heightened and prolonged in the survivor of a rape attack if this rape ends in pregnancy – it is like rubbing salt to injury.
Pregnancy would thus mean that part of the rapist as well as the memory of the rape incident would continue to remain with her for life. By aborting the child, the victim wants to wipe out the memory of the rapist and the rape incident system
A child is always a gift from God and a fruit of a mutual love relationship in marriage. In this case, the child born is definitely not the fruit of a mutual love relationship in marriage. Hence, one can easily understand and be sympathetic towards a rape survivor.
Nevertheless, abortion is a sin that goes against the Fifth Commandment and is a grave evil. The Catholic Church has always condemned direct abortion since it causes the death of a human being.
A child conceived by rape is innocent – he or she has not committed any crime or sin or done any harm to anyone.
The Catholic Church has always been pro-life, and although it sympathises with the victim of violence, it cannot and will not support, ever, a culture of death. The child should be allowed to be born, and then be entrusted to an orphanage.
Our Catholic orphanages are always open to take care of these children.
(Nirmala Carvalho contributed to this article)