Illustration for article titled Horrible Story Alert: Woman Tries To Flush Newborn Down Airplane Toilet

A woman described as a 22-year-old "unmarried medical student" (other reports say 25) returning home to India after studying abroad, apparently gave birth mid-flight, then attempted to flush the baby down the toilet of the Amritsar-bound Turkmenistan Airlines plane.

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The infant was found stuck in the toilet after the plane landed, and had to be taken to Amritsar's Fortis Escorts hospital still attached to the bowl; doctors used a saw to free its head. The baby is listed in critical condition.

The mother, meanwhile, was arrested in another part of the airport soon after the baby was discovered. Her condition was described by a doctor as "stable." Police say they will question her once she is declared medically - and, one hopes, psychologically - fit. Abandoning newborns is an offense punishable in India by up to seven years in jail; the penalty will obviously be more severe should the infant die; rising infanticide rates in India have led to more public scrutiny and a heightened response to such crimes. (Even if the motivations were different.)

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While it's impossible to know anything about this young woman's mind-set - beyond obvious panic - the tragedy immediately suggests context: although India's top court recently ruled that live-in relationships between adult couples are not a crime, pre-marital sex is still largely taboo and "virginity tests" not uncommon. Even divorced single mothers are ostracized and at a steep disadvantage; an unmarried mother faces unimaginable pressures.

Mother 'Put Newborn Baby Down Aircraft Toilet' [The National]
Indian Mum 'Tries To Flush Newborn Down Plane Toilet' [Telegraph]
Indian Woman Delivers, Abandons Baby In Plane Toilet [CNN]

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DISCUSSION

The women on this site keep responding about what they would do as if they were living in America. You don't have a clue what it would be like to get pregnant in a Muslim country and not be married. You wouldn't have options such as abortion & adoption. Your choices are public scorn, possible death, jail, homelessness, abandement and being disowned. Walk away from the baby for someone to find? In what fairy tale? She would have been found out and been convicted and sent to jail and cause her family horrible scorn. That young woman did the right thing for her. I am sorry the baby didn't die.