A Chandigarh court ruled against a 10-year old rape victim's plea to terminate her 26-week old pregnancy, citing serious health concerns. The court disposed the application move of the minor's parents and said that an abortion could lead to a life-threatening situation. 

I wouldn’t go far into abortion rules or legalities of that kind, but the question that remains unanswered by this Chandigarh court verdict is that by what standards do they think this 10-year-old girl is fit to be a mother?

At age 10 what were you and I doing?

The family of the girl approached the court seeking justice and this was what it got instead – a straight no. I sure hope they proceed to the Supreme Court with their petition, because in no way should society, medicine or the court allow a 10-year-old go through the immense pain of childbirth all because of an evil grown up.

Prior to 20 weeks, abortion rules requires one or two doctors to confirm that continuing the pregnancy would cause grave mental and physical harm to the woman or that the foetus would be born severely mentally or physically handicapped. The Act has a wide definition of what constitutes “mental harm” – it includes pregnancies caused as a result of rape and failure of birth control devices.

In this case the danger is both to the person carrying the foetus and as well as the unborn child. Doctors have clearly submitted in their reports that the child will not be able to undergo a normal delivery and a caesarean delivery is too dangerous for her.    

Shouldn’t the case have ended in the Chandigarh District Court, purely by the rarity of the nature of the case? Abortion should be allowed/ disallowed on case to case to basis and in this instance, the little girl should not be made to suffer. She clearly is not mentally and physically capable of bringing a child to term. Here the court is saying allowing for an abortion is a life-threatening situation. 

With this decision, the court is expecting the 10-year-old girl to go through bodily changes that her little body cannot handle. Why, even the doctors have said her frail body is not ready to carry a child, her pelvic bones are not fully formed. Yet, the district court has decided to deny this survivor a choice of her own. Babies born in the case of underage pregnancy have a statistical chance to be born deformed, anaemic, suffer from birth defects and in most cases die even. 

What happens when a rape survivor gives birth to a child in India?

One, she may be forced to give up her child for adoption having no means to take care of an infant; second she will be forced to bring up the child and be reminded of the unwanted circumstances in which the child was born; third, she has to be resigned to a life full of society asking her questions, treating her like a pariah, answering questions as to who the father of the child is, then learn to answer those questions when the child grows of knowledgeable age. The cycle is relentless. In all of this, is there any court? Is there anybody going through the trauma and humiliation? No.

This 10-year-old may have not even realised what just happened to her, how her body will change in the next three months, how her needs will change in the future. But here, the court wants this 10-year-old to assume the role of an adult, is this justice?

It is natural that most of us would want to do away with the pregnancy, return her to her normal life. But the truth is, life will never be normal for her. Here the choice is between an abortion or a dangerous delivery  The court may have had her life in mind, but when medical professionals have suggested that taking the baby to term would result in the death of the child, why isn't the court moved?