An Indian Court rejected a couple's petition on Monday for an abortion of a 25-week-old-fetus with a congenital heart problem. According to the Associated Press, Niketa and Haresh Mehta and their gynecologist, Dr. Nikhil Dattar, petitioned the court last month because they are concerned about the quality of life a child with congenital heart problems would have and because they cannot afford the pacemaker required to treat the condition.
Dr. Dattar told the Associated Press, "My plea was that the decision is best left to the parents who will take care of the child. We sought the opinion of many doctors and we were worried about the quality of life the child would have."
In India, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act legalizes abortion up to twelve weeks. Women can obtain abortions between twelve and twenty weeks only if they or the fetus face a health risk. After twenty weeks, abortions are only legal if the mother's health is at risk. However, many birth defects are only detected after the fetus is 20 weeks old.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act was passed in 1971, but the government has ruled out amendments to the law. Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss told the Times of India, "As it is today going by just one case, I do not think the law can be amended."
Media Resources: Associated Press 08/04/08; BBC News 08/04/08; The Times of India 08/04/08; Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act