Posted in Political

When Law Needs To Take A Walk: Medical Termination Of Pregnancy After 20 Weeks

(this is an old blog post of mine, dusted and brought to life because this escapes our government and court attention that it very much merits)

ONE SIZE FITS ALL, SAYS WHO?

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/sc-refuses-urgent-hearing-on-abortion-law-vis-a-vis-26-week-old-down-syndrome-foetus-will-hear-after-vacation-it-says/articleshow/57424540.cms

This illogical legal standing is the reason we have a baby born in our friends’ family that is mentally and physically retarded (no way I shall use the word ‘challenged’ ; is this really a challenge? what kind of challenge is this?) and immobile in bed for last seven years. Not in kindergarten with other kids, not running about playing mischiefs and breaking things. Just in his same baby cot, same room, same home, same town. The baby is the reason for marital friction between his parents, cause for terrible grief for his entire family. Add to it the huge medical bill every month plus physiotherapy charges and frequent hospitalization expenses. The medical cover hardly proves sufficient.

The little one’s mother is suspected to have caught a viral throat infection in her pregnancy (which she cannot recall – CMV virus as postnatal tests later revealed) By her 6th month in second term, it was still established via routine ultrasound scan that the baby’s brain as well as physical growth had stopped forthwith.That is valid ground for medical termination of pregnancy but it was past 20 weeks under Indian statute. The parents wanted to go for an abortion. Since law was against it, hospitals refused. The girl in her twenties was forced to continue with her pregnancy against her will without an ounce of happiness. They waited in desperation for the birth of the first child in family after nearly 30 years – in the third generation – knowing what was to come. So sad…

Now hopefully Government of India, the Supreme court everyone one is ought to be happy. Yes, in larger interests of the nation, the girl went ahead with her pregnancy, delivered an unhealthy boy, and is now trapped in a tragic situation, caring for her little son for over 7 years. So what, justice is served after all. Law was adhered to, to the last letter. The baby is fed (only soya milk nothing else) through a tube that is inserted into his nostril sometimes and if when his condition worsens (as it does every now and then), through a tube inserted directly into his stomach. How nightmarish life is for the little one since his day one! Can’t be more painful and torturous. How long will he live is a question mark. Can you imagine situation like this: wherefrom parents to grandparents everyone is praying and waiting for the baby to die?

The emotional and physical toll the sick baby is taking on his father and mother as well as on others is enormous. Life turned upside down for them just like that. They were only newly married happy couple. Young and throbbing with life.  Ambitious. My heart goes out to the innocent little bundle of profound sadness – who needn’t have to be, but for some obstinate laws we have here in India that do more harm than good. The disillusioned young parents have totally lost interest in life. Both are successful IT professionals. But after the boy’s birth, the mother had to give up her job. After what happened with the first born, the young couple do not even want to try for a second baby.

Are you happy India? Are you happy Judges that justice is served? That Law is upheld? You killed no son of India. You saved his life. For what purpose? To our government and perhaps the justice system, this is a mere collateral damage to pay when it comes to upholding law, from preventing misuse of the statute. But what medical expertise do our legal experts boast of, to rule on exigency cases like these?

Why cannot there be case to case exceptions where a judge can decide suo motto on the issue in medical situations like this one. These are special cases that need to take into account expert opinion and have to be judged on humanitarian ground. When we have family courts for divorces in India, why cannot we have a similar system for civil medical suits?

India’s Supreme court has NO time to hear sensitive, critical issues like these that may mean life and death to citizens: our judges will decide on fellow Indians’ precious lives at their leisure. Whether it is about medical termination of foetus after 20 weeks or Jallikattu matter pending for years before Supreme court, you will have to wait. How can one ever repose faith in an institution where the welfare of citizens seems to be of least consequence. Vacate the vacation, if you have to. Timing is precious and sacrosanct in these cases. The purpose of Law and Judiciary is to serve citizens JUSTICE. Not to deny or delay justice to the needy and desperate. Justice delayed is justice denied. It is understandable that the mother’s life and health are more of a concern. Still, unilateral ruling without taking into consideration case specifics will serve no purpose. It is time, our stone age statutes are revisited and Draconian ones like the abortion laws are repealed and/or amended/revised/restructured on expert opinion.

Rise in birthrate of abnormal children with birth defects (congenital or otherwise) is a big loss to not only the concerned parents/family but also to Indian nation. A healthy population means a healthy nation. And now, we have increased number of such births in India (and in entire world) (reasons being use of pesticides/fertilizers/pollution whatever). Prevention of these undesirable births does not make one cruel or heartless. Just ask the parents.

Finally, what is the purpose of ultrasound scans or other advanced tests carried out with amniotic fluid in the womb? It is to rule out anomalies in the foetus that these tests are recommended right upto the trimester term, why even 24 hours before delivery.  If you cannot amend the law, why go for them? Not to mention they are expensive.

 

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