ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Right to Safe Abortion

The case of the 10 year old victim of rape who is pregnant and awaiting delivery after being denied permission to abort by the courts is an urgent indication that all stakeholders must come together and find a solution for unwanted pregnancies which present after 20 weeks.

Even as the 10-year old pregnant girl whose case has been widely reported in the media awaits delivery in a hospital in Chandigarh, a 12-year old girl in Mumbai has been found to be 27 weeks pregnant. Both are victims of rape by men known to their families. The first was assaulted over seven months by her uncle while in the latters case it was a man who worked with her father and rented a room from the family. Incidentally, the child has had surgery performed three years ago at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), in Chandigarh for a hole in the heart. According to the media, the doctors that the family of the first child consulted, had expressed concern over her health given the history of cardiac surgery and also said that the pregnancy would have to be terminated prematurely at 32 weeks since it posed a grave risk to the girls physical health if it was allowed to continue beyond that. The family approached first the Chandigarh High Court to grant her permission to abort and on being denied approached the Supreme Court. The apex Court asked the medical experts at the Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh to review the case and give their opinion. Clinical Issues

According to the Indian Academy of Paediatrics chart,1 at the age of 10, an average Indian female child will weigh 30 kg and be 140 cms tall at the 50th percentile. Given that maternal height of less than 145 cm is a predictor for obstructed labour and increases the risk of a bladder wall fistula during vaginal delivery it is not likely that this child can have a vaginal delivery without causing serious trauma to the perineum and pelvic floor muscles. Of course the foetus may also be growth retarded and of a low birth weight but it seems that the delivery will have to be surgical via a caesarean section. This is a major surgery requiring anaesthesia.

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Published On : 27th Feb, 2024

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