Do we have the right to abort a child – whatever be the pretext?
This issue thrown up in the case of Haresh and Niketa Mehta.
(see the Times of India Editorial below)
is similar to Euthanasia and
the question is whether we have the right to pluck a life.
Speaking from the point of view of Hindu dharma,
a life can be taken out only in the case of a larger good
say, for safeguarding the community,
but certainly not for own sake
or for the sake of others.
Even taking out one's own life has no sanction.
Fetus at 24 weeks.
If the child is destined to suffer ailments once born,
or if those through whom it is born in to this world
are going to suffer on account of it,
the Sanatana dharma views it as Prarabhda karma –
that which has to be gone through.
Termination of life to stop it,
has no sanction.
A piquant situation -
when people in these times come to know in advance
of what is to come.
Coming to know in advance of the suffering
too is a kind of working out one’s karma.
Kali yuga is bound to see more of
such karmas and dilemmas.
May all be steeped in divine thoughts
to ward off situations like this!
Times of India Editorial:-
August 6, 2008
Mother & Child
The Bombay high court's ruling, that Haresh and Niketa Mehta cannot legally abort the couple's 25-week-old foetus, has brought into sharp relief the need for a public debate on the laws in India. Part of the reason why this case received the kind of publicity it did was that the Mehtas chose to appeal for exemption legally, instead of clandestinely opting for the abortion route, like many people in this country do.
For this, they must be highly commended. The debate over abortion in India is not cast in the same mould as it is in most of the advanced countries, nor is it as contested or political. The pro-choice versus pro-life battle in the West has been around for a while and is made of a complex set of religious, ethical and political issues. In India, however, except for times when cases like that of the Mehtas make the headlines, abortion is not an issue that captures the imagination of the public and our political class. India is among those countries which have fairly liberal abortion laws, provided for by the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act of 1971.
It allows termination of the pregnancy even beyond the 20th week, if there is a threat to the mother's life. However, it does not extend that provision to cases where the child's health after birth might be under adverse risk. It was this lacuna that the Mehtas were challenging as their unborn child runs the risk of being born with congenital heart ailments.
The judges stuck to the rule book and turned down their plea. Health minister Anbumani Ramadoss has said that the law has been around for a long time and needs no amendment just because of exceptional cases like this one. But it is precisely because there are many exceptions that the law — dating back to almost four decades — needs to be revisited.
There are valid concerns that in a country like India where female foeticide is a real problem, any further relaxation of abortion laws could be misused. However, that argument must not hold reasonable reforms to the MTP Act to ransom. There is a separate law — the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Tests Act — to address the issue of female foeticide. Its enforcement is poor; government would do well to get its act together in that area.
Given that monitoring of pregnancies in India is poor, the MTP Act itself could be amended to increase the cut-off period to 24 weeks, as is the case in many other countries. After the cut-off period, abortions could still be allowed based on a medical determination of life-threatening risk to mother or child.
Some opinions from ‘Letters to the editor column’ of The Hindu.