Sunday, August 10, 2008

Niketa's Choice

The Hindu, Sunday Magazine, August 10, 2008

The Other Half

Thanks to media interest, millions of people have had a direct peek into the life and the choices before a 25-weeks pregnant woman and her husband in Mumbai. Niketa and Haresh Mehta, who were married earlier this year, decided to seek the court’s permission to have an abortion when their doctor informed them that the foetus in Niketa’s womb had a complete congenital heart block. Rather than going through with the pregnancy, the couple decided on an abortion only to come up against stipulations in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971 that permits abortions only up to 20 weeks, and that too on certification by at least two medical practitioners that either the mother’s or the child’s lives are at risk.

The Bombay High Court heard the case. On Monday, August 4, it denied the petition stating that they could not make an exception in the case and that nothing in the report of the expert committee they had instituted suggested that the child’s life was at risk. They also suggested that the court could not change the law, that this was the job of legislators and that people like the Mehtas should seek a change in the law.

The case has thrown up a fascinating number of issues that concern individual choice, ethics, technology and the law. In each instance, there are no clear guidelines, there is nothing that is black and white.

(To read the rest of the article, click on the link above)

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