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May 16, 2017

India doctors allow 10-year-old rape victim to abort

A panel of doctors has accepted a 10-year-old rape victim's plea for an abortion in the northern Indian state of Haryana.

Dr Ashok Chauhan told the BBC the termination would be carried out "anytime now".

The girl fell pregnant about five months ago. She alleges rape by her stepfather, who has been arrested.

Indian law does not allow terminations after 20 weeks unless doctors confirm the woman's life is in danger.

The decision to allow the child to abort was taken after a local court told doctors at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS) in the town of Rohtak that it would accept their recommendation.

The tough law against abortion was introduced to fight India's skewed gender ratio. A deep-seated cultural preference for sons has led to millions of female foetuses being aborted over the years by pregnant women after undergoing foetal gender testing.

In recent months India's Supreme Court has received several petitions, some from women who were raped, wanting to terminate pregnancies after 20 weeks. The court has always referred the matter to medical experts.

In the latest case in Rohtak town in Haryana, doctors from the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS) accepted the family's request to allow the child to have an abortion.

The pregnancy came to light last week when the 10-year-old's mother, who works as a domestic helper, suspected her child was pregnant and took her to see a doctor.

Reports said the girl was often left at home when her mother went to work. She told her mother that she had been repeatedly raped by her stepfather, who had warned her not to say anything.

The stepfather was arrested after the mother lodged a police complaint, senior Rohtak police official Pankaj Nain told the BBC.

Dr Chauhan had said on Monday the case for a termination was "borderline".

"She is around 20 weeks pregnant, but it could be 19 weeks or it could be 21 weeks. The technology is not so advanced that it can tell you exactly what week she's in."

 
(BBC News)

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