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August 4, 2008 / lazybug

Sorry, You Can’t Abort

The Mumbai High Court has rejected NIketa and Haresh Mehta’s plea for abortion of their yet to be born child. The couple wants to abort the child because it has been diagnosed to have a weak heart and will survive only if fitted with a pacemaker. The court said it’s too late to abort, since the law does not permit abortions after 20 weeks.

Who is in the best position to decide whether the child should be aborted or not? Surely, the parents have the first say. Libertarians would say the mother has to have the final say, since she is the one who’ll raise the child.

“Nobody will come to see the day-to-day trauma of the baby and the mother. Even if the government will provide funds, it cannot help my child,” Niketa said.

Makes sense, but would the couple not raise the child if they did not know that the child was going to have an abnormality? But the abnormality has got little to do here. Abortion is abortion, health of the child being secondary.

The court is not against abortion, but has set a 20 week timeline for it. This law was based on research which suggested that at 20 weeks, the foetus begins to have an ‘identity’ of sorts. What difference does this timeline make? It surely makes sense to have a timeline in place. The general feeling being that at eight months or so, the child is alive (and kicking).

But the question is, if it’s OK for a mother to abort a child before 20 weeks, she should be allowed to do so later as well. No?

Further reading: Abortion – Pros and Cons



Leave a Comment
  1. prityjaiswal / Aug 5 2008 8:27 am

    At eighth week the foetus develops the first sign of life and gets heartbeat. The government has set a twenty weeks timeline keeping in mind the health of both mother and child. Aborting a child in such a later stage is dangerous for Niketa.

  2. Aravind / Aug 5 2008 11:10 am

    As sensible as the law is, I think the parents are over reacting about the health of the child. If it was something as bad as mental or physical disability then they probably have to worry about the future but saying that, ” pacemakers are costly and it would be difficult for them to make replacements every five years”, means they are trying to say, “we will not be able to afford a pacemaker every five years”!!.The cost of a pacemaker is around 4 lakh rupees now, it will get cheaper by the time the kid grows up.

  3. Rama Chandran / Aug 5 2008 11:31 am

    This is R.Rama Chandran , a man of 57, who is doing research in Nano
    technology and Medicine, enrolled myself with Utkal University of Culture for doing PhD under topic “Vedas- A critical study with special reference to Human Health and body”

    The Vedas talk about the nano technology and health and by lighting a lamp with herbal Medicine, and making the electromagnetic force penetrates thro the body, we can save the lives.

    Now I wish to send an oil to Mr&Mrs Niketa Haresh, whose foetus doctors wanted to terminate with the permission of the H.C.

    If this oil is burnt, the mother will deliver baby with improved health.

    If You help me to meet this couple I will guide them how to do this.


    SC, Second Floor
    38, Bali Amman koil Street,
    Chennai- 600049
    Tamil nadu

  4. SIG / Aug 6 2008 5:50 am

    I would like to know how to contact Niketa. I live in the United States and faced a nearly identical situation at 23 weeks. I feel great empathy and would really like to write to her. I think this couple is brave and bold and I applaud them for trying to do this the right way. How can I get in touch with her ?

  5. lazybug / Aug 6 2008 5:24 pm

    @Prity and Aravind: I tend to agree with you.

    @ Ramachandaran and SIG: I am sorry, I have no idea how you can get in touch with the couple.

  6. prityjaiswal / Aug 7 2008 9:08 am

    i wonder if this fiasco is about the health of the baby. Had they really been concerned they would have fought for ways to help the child and not to gag him even before he/she takes the first breath. I find all this silly publicity stunt, coz there are several ways of doing what they are crying hoarse about.

  7. Yashashwini Y P / Aug 7 2008 3:42 pm

    Although, like Akhil, I am still not taking a stance on the issue – not in respect to the Indian law but due to the fact that the foetus does have a life of its own – there are a few thoughts that come to my mind .

    Firstly, I think the decision to abort or not is the parents’ or really the mother’s prerogative, especially when the doctor admits that installing the pacemaker can prove fatal to the newborn. Secondly (@Aravind & Akhil), The Indian law DOES allow the mother to abort if a problem with the foetus has been detected within 20 weeks but not later (!). When her feelings towards the matter is OK before week 20, why not after it? Is it the Indianness which teaches man to suffer in his lifetime to prove his goodness?

    @prityjaiswal – Its as dangerous to Niketa as its in week 19.

    I think Niketa (and her husband) is brave enough to admit that she wouldn’t be able to handle the burden of the child, physically and mentally and financially – 4 lakhs every 5 years is not an amount everyone can afford. That courage in our Indian society is laudable.

    The case has come to light because Nikita’s pregnancy has crossed the 20 weeks and she decided to go in for a LEGAL abortion. I think its fantastic that its caught our attention and made us think about the abortion law – to say the least.

  8. prityjaiswal / Aug 8 2008 6:53 am

    @ Y P: This is certainly a perspective based issue and Niketa’s attempt has been fantastically used by the media to garner benefits and I agree with you that it is undoutedly making us sit up and think! But the term courageous can be applied to so many actions. Niketa has chosen a legal recourse, has blaspmaeously admitted her unwillingness to go through the physical, mental and financial detour (for the baby )and is certainly brave to be ready to undergo abortion at such a vulunerable stage, not to forget her present emotional, physical and finacial trauma for taking up the issue. There could have been one more courageous act and that could be to ACCEPT the baby. Sadly they must now coz the law has refused them the abortion.

  9. Yashashwini Y P / Aug 8 2008 10:15 am

    @prityjaiswal – We should be nobody to judge what she should or shouldn’t accept.

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