Everyone seems to be talking about the Mehta case for the last couple of days. For those who don’t know, Niketa Mehta fought the law to fight for her right to abort her 25 week old foetus which has congenital heart problems.
The verdict is out and Niketa Mehta has been denied the permission to terminate the pregnancy. In a country where many abortions are done behind closed doors without the knowledge of the law, here is a couple who went and knocked on the courts for justice and for their unborn baby. The baby might have heart problems, shortness of breath and may even need a pace maker shortly after its birth.
There are strong chances that this child will not able to lead a normal life. Had Ms. Mehta found out about this a month earlier, she’d have had the right to terminate her pregnancy. Under the MTP Act, termination of pregnancy after the period of 20 weeks is prohibited by law.
Niketa does not want to bring this child into the world to suffer. She’d rather let her baby go. As I read the story done in different papers, I found myself confused. Is this right? Was the court wrong? I felt incapable of making a statement about this. I haven’t borne a child or raised one to empathise with Niketa. So, I asked Mom.
‘Do you know how much hurts to see your child suffer? That’s exactly why she doesn’t want the baby…’ she said as she tossed a hot paratha into my plate. I couldn’t help but wonder, if that child is destined to be born and to Niketa, who is the law or who is the mother to interfere with the forces of destiny.
I shuddered as I read that a 26 week old foetus can smile. Imagine, if the foetus can feel things, does it feel his/her mother’s requests to abandon it? Does it sense that the mother wants it terminated? I start wondering how it might feel if my mother didn’t want me… And my heart goes out to the unborn child.
I wonder what’d happen if this child was born, and Niketa brought it up with all the love she can (I believe she will because she’s a mother and they love their kids no matter what). And then suddenly a television report or a news story reminds him/her of the court room drama that determined their fate and of the fact that it was that judge who decided to bring them into the world and not their own mother. The way the media is going right now, I won’t be surprised if that happened.
Suddenly, my Mom puts her hand on my shoulder and says, ‘On second thoughts, however they are, your children are yours. You love them anyway,’ she sits down and continues, ‘so if a mother doesn’t want her child to come into the world, it is always for a strong reason. She makes that choice out of love. She’s aware that the life she might bring the child in to is much worse than death.’
That reminded me of my aunt, Neena maushi, who kept telling us how important it was that we understand our Mother through the rebellious teenage years. She’d always say, “When your mom tells you to jump from the 10th floor, don’t ask why, just jump without a second thought. Know that she’s telling you to do so, because grave danger is lurking behind you. A mother always knows the best and will protect you at all costs!”
Maybe that is what Niketa is doing. Maybe she doesn’t want her child to ask her why he/she can’t run around in parks, maybe she doesn’t want to see her baby cut open the day it is born, maybe she doesn’t want to see the baby depend on a pacemaker… But then maybe that child deserves a chance. Maybe that child is destined to struggle and sail through. Maybe Niketa is destined to stand by her child through its struggle.
After all who are we to fight destiny?
PS: Just after i wrote this post, I read that the Mehtas are not challenging the court’s order. Jaslok hospital in Mumbai has offered to perform the surgery for free for the Mehta baby. The Mehtas are yet to accept or decline the offer.