Should A Woman Be Forced To Give Birth In Case Of Foetal Anomalies?

Indian society has to go a long way and create necessary support systems if we are to say, “You cannot abort a baby” to a woman carrying a foetus with abnormalities.

Recently a woman who sought to abort a baby discovered with multiple abnormalities, was rejected by the doctors. She had to file a petition in the court to terminate her pregnancy on account of anomalies found in the foetus like microcephaly (smaller head and brain) and lissencephaly.

For once the mother seeking the right to abort the child got justice.

Noting the fact that the Medical Board had advised against the termination merely because the pregnancy is at an advanced stage the court said that, “It would be a denial of her right to dignity, and her reproductive and decisional autonomy. The mother knows today that there is no possibility of having a normal healthy baby at the end of this delivery. In cases such as these, we believe Courts must calibrate themselves to not only the facts as they stand but must also consider that what these cases present are, above all, profound questions of identity, agency, self-determination and the right to make an informed choice. It does not even attempt to envision the kind of life — one with no quality at all to speak of — that the Petitioner must endure for an indefinite future if the Board’s recommendation is to be followed. And that is plainly wrong, as we have seen. Given a severe fetal abnormality, the length of the pregnancy does not matter.”

Earlier in December 2022, a Delhi high court had passed a similar verdict.

A woman’s right to abortion

Can a woman be forced to give birth in such cases?

Birthing a child is not a child’s play, but most of us take it for granted. Not many give serious thought to how the baby is going to adapt to the family nor how the family is going to adapt to the baby. In our society where children are born for various reasons, what else can we expect?

Sometimes a woman is forced to bear children, no matter how she feels about going through the pregnancy, giving birth, or bringing up a child. Though women’s rights are trampled upon and no safety assured for a girl child, there are laws that stop a mom from aborting a baby.

What are we saying to these women? Let them come into this world, no matter how bad their suffering will be as a result of it. But, if any leniency is shown in this matter, then naturally people will take advantage of it. So law is required.

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Then comes those special cases of babies who show signs of abnormalities in their development during pregnancy. If it happens in early pregnancy, many parents would opt for termination, but complications arise when the pregnancy is in a later stage.

Raising a special child not easy, especially in India

Not many understand that bringing up a special child takes away a huge chunk of the mom’s/or sometimes dad’s life itself. When people do not hesitate to put down anyone with a different height, weight or color, naturally those who are different will become a target of bullying, ridicule and challenges to fit in. Those who have not been there will never understand the everyday struggle of the parents to either feed, educate, potty training, life skills training and many more. Sometimes the whole responsibility is borne by the mother alone, with little or no support from family or society.

Though my personal choices and opinions differ from the verdict, I do feel a great relief to know that the woman is given a choice in making the decision. No one should be forced to live a life of suffering, neither the mom nor the child. Our society has to go a long way and create enough support system if we are to say, “You cannot abort a baby”. Being a mother of a special needs young woman, I know the huge responsibility that comes with a special needs child.

Image source: RODNAE Productions from Pexels Free for Canva

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About the Author

Farida Rizwan

I am Farida Rizwan, 57, Counselor and Psychotherapist working as Senior Curriculum Developer with Chimple Learning. I am the founder of My Giggle Garden, Preschool, and Daycare. I am an ardent blogger @www.chaptersfrommylife.com read more...

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