International

Woman in India allowed to get a full-term abortion due to child’s disability

India, c-section, Guernsey, climate change, pregnancy discrimination, disability

A woman was allowed to undergo a full-term abortion in India, simply because her baby had a prenatal diagnosis of spina bifida.

According to the Independent, a 36-year-old woman sought an abortion after receiving the diagnosis. In addition to the woman’s testimony, the court received a report from the nine-member medical board of the SSKM Hospital in Kolkata, which gave a bleak outlook for the child’s life. The Calcutta High Court then approved the abortion, which was committed after the woman had already reached an astonishing 35 weeks of pregnancy.

In India, abortion is legal through 24 weeks of pregnancy; after that, the mother must receive approval from a judge, with exceptions typically granted if the child has a disability.

“Considering the entire gamut of facts and circumstances, this court permits the petitioner to medically terminate her pregnancy at an authorised hospital and/or medical facility,” the judge said, adding that the hospital’s report said that the child would have severe impairments and limited mortality.

READ: Mom of Lillian, who has spina bifida, says she ‘was offered an abortion at every visit’

“My clients have told the court that they are responsible if there is any problem in abortion,” the woman’s lawyer said. “Who doesn’t want to be a mother? But the decision is based on the danger to the life of the mother and the dark future of the 35-week-old foetus.”

Despite the so-called “dark future” of the child, with groundbreaking new treatments, even the most severe cases of spina bifida can have better outcomes. A study in JAMA Pediatrics, for example, found that in-utero spina bifida repairs are more likely to be able to walk independently and perform self-care skills. Additionally, research from Mayo Clinic found that prenatal surgery on babies with spina bifida has been found to restore normal brain structure — and again, this includes children with myelomeningocele, the most common and serious form of spina bifida.

Yet despite the improvements in medical care for children with spina bifida, Dr. David Stitelman, surgical director of the Yale Fetal Care Center, has reported that roughly half of these preborn children will be aborted. The reality is that this is nothing more than ableism in action; disability is not a death sentence, and people with spina bifida are able to lead happy, successful lives.

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