High Court of Bombay authorises 'therapeutic' abortion in case involving a difficult social context
by Nirmala Carvalho

In a controversial ruling, the court is authorising an 18-year-old unwed woman to end her pregnancy after 26 weeks even though the foetus is healthy and represents no risks to her health. Instead of abortion, children should be given to the Missionaries of Charity, as Mother Teresa asked.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – A pregnancy in a difficult social context can be considered “a risk to a woman's mental health,” and thus constitutes sufficient grounds for a therapeutic abortion, even beyond the legal 20-week limit, this according to the High Court of Bombay (Mumbai).

The controversial decision shows that even in India the issue of the defence of unborn life is an open question.

The judges ruled in the case of an 18-year-old unmarried woman who wanted an abortion at the 26th week of pregnancy, despite the fact that the fetus is healthy and there are no risks to her physical health.

The woman was diagnosed with having a mild form of depression, which if properly treated would not create serious problems for her.

However, the judges accepted the argument that for an 18-year-old from a poor family, with other children, whose livelihood comes from selling vegetables and driving a rickshaw, a pregnancy could have a serious impact on her future mental health.

For this reason, the court authorised an abortion at the JJ Hospital, one of Mumbai’s public hospitals.

It should be noted that just a few weeks ago the Kerala High Court expressed the opposite opinion on a petition presented by a woman in the 31st week of pregnancy, in many ways similar to the one in Mumbai.

The court decision left pro-life activists baffled. “The abortion law now makes it seem that an unborn child is not a child until the moment of birth,” said Dr Pascoal Carvalho, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, speaking to AsiaNews.

“No one is addressing the rights of the foetus. Our society is also to blame for not providing adequate support for unwed mothers and their families,” he explained.

“The Missionaries of Charity in Mumbai and around the world welcome babies and counter the evil of abortion with adoptions,” he noted.

“As Mother Teresa said: ‘Please, don’t kill the child. I want the child, Please, give me the child.’ [Thousands of saved children] have brought such love and joy to adopting parents’.”