Family of 13-year-old rape victim to keep her baby

The family of the 13-year-old minor rape victim who delivered a pre-term baby boy, has decided to keep the newborn. Her parents have agreed to be legal guardians of the newborn. “We want to keep him. The baby will not be given to anyone else,” said mother of the 13-year-old on Saturday. Until Friday, she said she had seen the baby in operation theatre after delivery but was unsure of whether they would want to accept him. “My husband decided,” she added.
Currently, the newborn is admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit and is on ventilator support at JJ Hospital. Dr Ashok Anand, head of gynaecology department at JJ Hospital, said, “The baby is stable. Since it is a pre-term birth and weight is very low, we will keep the baby admitted for a longer period.”
A Child Welfare Committee (CWC) worker accompanied the minor till Friday when she underwent a caesarean operation to terminate her pregnancy – following Supreme Court orders to terminate her pregnancy. According to Rahul More, divisional deputy commissioner of Women and Child Development, the family is the first legal guardian of the newborn. “If they decide to give the baby up for adoption, CWC would bring the case to us and WCD would then provide shelter for the child,” said More. The mother is stable, added doctors.
This is, perhaps, the youngest case to have been permitted abortion in an advanced stage of pregnancy, at 31 weeks, by the apex court. The minor discovered about her pregnancy in 27th week of gestation. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act caps the limit of abortion at 20 weeks, as a result of which the minor’s father had approached the court, seeking relief under Section 5 of the Act.
On Wednesday, based on the JJ Hospital medical report, the apex court had directed the hospital to terminate the minor’s pregnancy. Since the foetus was fully formed, doctors observed that abortion will technically mean pre-term delivery. A caesarean procedure was carried on Friday to deliver a 1.8 kg baby boy. The teenage mother will remain admitted to hospital for a week. Doctors claim that while she is stable, the operation may impact her back as a normal side effect of caesarean procedures.
The minor rape victim had approached the SC to terminate her pregnancy after she underwent a sonography on August 9. The class VII student has three siblings. She was sexually assaulted in her house by a 23-year-old man, who worked with her father, a streetfood vendor. Following her case, doctors have argued that such cases should not be forced to approach the court for relief.
Gynaecologist Dr Sudhir Naik said, “Observing her medical condition, a pre-term delivery could have been carried out without approaching the court.” However, several gynaecologists argue that with a stringent MTP Act, doctors find it difficult to aid termination of pregnancy of women who cross 20 weeks of gestation. Dr Nikhil Datar, a gynaecologist who helped the minor victim’s family to move court, said, “Until the Act is amended, we need committees that can handle such cases so that pregnant women who need abortion beyond 20 weeks do not have to knock on SC’s door.”
On Friday, a 32-year-old pregnant patient of Datar, whose foetus was diagnosed with congenital heart and generic defects, was permitted by the SC to undergo abortion after 30 weeks’ gestation. The patient was examined on Wednesday by a panel of doctors at JJ Hospital, who submitted a report that batted for terminating her pregnancy. She was admitted to the hospital on Saturday.
According to advocate Sneha Mukherjee, the SC bench observed that the foetal impairment may not sustain the baby after birth. “The foetus has multiple serious abnormalities. The foetus may be born alive but life expectancy is short,” said Mukherjee.

About Anika Vihaan

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