Monday, August 4, 2008

Who can take life?

Case of Niketa and Harish Mehta to fight India's abortion law brings back age old debate in all societies to the forefront in India. India is quite relaxed in abortion laws, were one to compare them to United States, because abortion is legal for pregnancies less than 20 weeks old, and for cases where having child will lead to health hazard or mental trauma (rape cases) for mother or risk of life to newborn. Typical rational response - to which I subscribe - to such case is that parents of the child are best to decide whether to abort or not, since they will be ones bringing the baby in the world and taking care of him/her throughout. Yet, some people argue against this because they believe that killing someone is crime even if it is a unborn foetus.

What it ultimately boils down to is when one considers beginning of life. A murder of newborn will chill heart of even most coldhearted, yet is pain felt any less few hours before birth? What about few days? Who decides at what point a senseless cell becomes feeling human being. Arbitrary boundaries at birth worked well before science gave us those mushy pictures and sounds of heartbeats in sonograms. Yet just conceived foetus can hardly be life since it is no different from thousands of cells in over body which one kills by mere scratching of nose. It is true that border of life is ambiguous yet to put order to such cases, birth can reasonably be made the beginning and for all practical purposes couple should be give right to decide to bring their baby in the world or not. In India, and in many societies this right is maternal prerogative. Contributed of husband is not taken into account since he doesn't bear the child. Is he at fault for not doing what he cannot do? This will be subject of some other discussion.

A comprehensive analysis of issue is at Elekhni's blog.

Update 14/08/2008: In a dramatic climax to the saga, Niketa suffered a miscarriage today. While my sympathies are still with parents, doubt remains whether miscarriage was real or planned after unsuccessful attempt at going legal.

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Cross-posted at