Aborting foetus for Down Syndrome illogical: city doctors

Down is not incompatible with happy life: doctors

Aborting foetus for Down  Syndrome illogical: city doctors
City doctors find no logical reason in aborting a foetus just on grounds that child would be born with Down Syndrome.

Reacting to the Supreme Court’s order rejecting a plea to abort a 26-week-old foetus with Down Syndrome, several doctors said that the family could have tested the foetus for any such defects early. Some doctors said that it is not a serious disability for the mother to abort her foetus.

Dr Jagadish A, consultant psychiatrist, Abhaya Hospital said, “It is not a genuine reason to abort the foetus. Even though the child’s IQ will be very low, these are not disabled children. They have magnolia features, short stature and short fingers. However, they are cheerful people,” he added.

According to Dr Kamini Rao, Medical Director, Milann, the abnormality could have been identified earlier. “The Supreme Court has extended the permission for termination of pregnancy from 20 weeks to 24 weeks. That is only for evolving lesions that are diagnosed in the later weeks of pregnancy. Downs is not one among them,” she said. Down Syndrome can be screened for as early as in the first trimester, said Dr Kamini.

“There are markers, both high and low which can be identified early. The child also has a right to live. Now, it is like killing a baby. It is no longer abortion,” she said.

Dr Ashok M V, professor, Psychiatry, St Johns Medical College said that adequate medical and social support can help the mother. “Maybe, she did not have access to early diagnosis. Several parents get to know of their child’s disability only when the child is born,” he said. 

“Down is not incompatible with happy life. There are several support groups, both public and private that support parents of children with developmental disabilities. Also, there is good advocacy by parent groups,” he added. Dr Ashok said that since a lot was known about the condition, a lot of issues could be addressed at an early stage.

Dr Sridevi Hegde, HOD, department of Medical Genetics, Manipal Hospital said that usually, when most parents on hearing about it chose to terminate pregnancy except in communities in which religious beliefs are against abortion.

The risk for chromosomal abnormality for the foetus is high after the expectant mother is above 35. “Her doctors could have been aware. About 95% per cases can be detected with Nuchal Translucency scan a non-invasive prenatal test in the first trimester. Besides, there are Double Marker Tests up to 13 weeks to check whether the risk of chromosomal abnormality is high. Tripper markers are available up to 18 weeks. Following this, pre-natal screening, both non-invasive and invasive methods are available for mothers with high risk,” she said.

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