CHANDIGARH: The district court here refused+ on Tuesday to let a 10-year-old rape survivor undergo an abortion+ after it was confirmed that she was 26 weeks pregnant. Courts allow medical termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act and can make an exception if the foetus is genetically abnormal.
The girl had been raped several times+ , allegedly by her maternal uncle. Her father is a government employee and mother a domestic help.
The case has left many medical experts dumbfounded as they have rarely come across a girl getting pregnant at such a tender age+ .
Doctors insist the pelvic bones are not fully developed in girls at this age and, therefore, tolerating a full-term pregnancy is very risky. While normal delivery is ruled out, even a Caesarean section at that age is dangerous.
“I have not seen a 10-yearold girl pregnant ever before,” said Rashmi Bagga, department of obstetrics and gynaecology, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh. She added that in contrast to a normal pregnancy, underage pregnancy is difficult to detect. “When a menstrual cycle is missed, it is not noted by underage girls,” she said.
This, however, is not the first case of its kind in the region. In May, another 10-yearold girl who was between 18 and 22 weeks pregnant was allowed an abortion by a local court in Rohtak.
Experts add that they are increasingly coming across cases of menarche (first occurrence of menstruation) setting in as early as eight years, when the normal age is 13 years. Despite this, pregnancy at 10 years is extremely rare.
“The victim is six months pregnant, as revealed by her ultrasound reports. We have submitted our medical advice to the court regarding termination of the foetus,” said an official from Government Medical College and Hospital where the girl was examined. The hospital authorities refused to give more details.
“In almost 40 years of practice, I have never come across such a case. I had seen a 13-year-old girl pregnant. If legal permission is granted treating it as an exceptional case, it’s better to terminate the pregnancy as there can be complications,” said Dr Umesh Jindal, a well-known gynaecologist and a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.