Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Do we have the right to abort?

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 abortion 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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Aborting cos the fetus is a female is wrong.But this is attributed to the society which views females as a source of burden.So instead of making female infanticide illegal, efforts should be made towards educating people and making necessary changes in the standard of living in the social strata which views females as a burden.But this is a voluminous task and quite impractical in present day political bureaucracy.
So what is the situation like if abortion (female infanticide or due to any anomalies detected in the fetus or a unplanned conception) becomes a personal choice.

people can react in two ways while facing a situation like this.

1.prefer abortion. they have their justification.
a. y bring up a girl child in a society where they are going to be exploited, where as parents they cant help the child financially for education, marriage etc

b.y bring up a child who will be handicapped because no medical treatment can cure the disease or as parents they cannot afford to spend for treatment. its an injustice to the child bringing him/her into the world knowin tht world may not be kind to them.As a parent, their love for the child's well being overwhelms and the child is better off not being born.

c. y bring up a child wen as parents they r not ready mentally/financially to bring them up.isnt it perfectly logical to make money in their careers and then bring up a child with all luxuries.

2. no abortion. every one has the right to live

a.take it as a challenge to bring up the gal cant change the society.. but one can adapt ones own mind abt the supposed 'difficulties' in bringin up the child. take it as an adventure where one 'may' revolutionise the 'norms' of the society

b.its a child born out of love and trust and commitment.. save the child at whtever the cost. get help from philanthropists (world has not yet become a misanthrope)or if no treatment is available..bring the child into the world, teach him the joy of living cos living is in the heart. There are examples all around with parents bringin up mentally handicapped child etc.learn from them.

c. considerin the priorities a child should have - that is love, care, a secure atmosphere.these do not require effort and money.small compromises will have to be made in career (esp of tht of the woman)and money matters. But its better than regretting years later abt 'how the unborn baby would have looked' (it would be even more regretful if there are no babies after the abortion).

hence people should be educated about accepting 'life' or for that matter accepting the situation and finding out ways to adapt to it rather than choosing the 'escapist' route of getting away from the situation.

Probably this is where religion helps in the name of karma.

karma becomes good or bad for the bearer according to the way he views it.

knowing its a gal child or a handicapped child or an unplanned child and life's gonna be tough , the person is visualising a depressing life and he is gonna view it as a bad karma.

But if he visualises the fun he will have with his kid, or tht his gal kid will turn out to look like aishwarya rai ;), or the handicapped kid might turn out to be a stephen hawking or the unplanned kid is gonna make their life happy with its tantrums and pranks or turn out to be entrepreneur.. then he is lookin at the good side and he will see it as his good karma (cos he is having a good time).

good or bad karma is a perception. Its our choice.

God is kind. He is impartial to us He will not let only some ppl have good times and others, bad times.Personally I feel he just gives us many situations and always asks us to see the good and beautiful in it (however impossible the situation looks).Remember Prahlada story.. inspite of a tough situation prahlad faced.. he dint take it as a bad karma for being born to a father who abhors the lord.

So if there is a dilemma (here the issue being abortion), it is a personal choice. One must believe one can extract happiness from even a seemingly impossible situation. It reminds me of my dental training..the more tougher it is to extract a teeth the more challenging it becomes and once i ve finally extracted there is this feeling of elation tht i moved a mountain and feel i hve reached a greater height in my knowledge and experience. Its the same wth life.

so the question is not about 'do we have the right to abort'. it is about 'i have the right to face any situations and convert it to my happiness'

And i feel this should be the attitude a parent should have when facing such a situation.