The Supreme Court has said that all women have the right to safe and legal abortion. The court has said that under medical termination pregnancy, unmarried women can get an abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Abortion law in India
The court has said this while delivering its verdict in a case related to the abortion of unmarried women.
Justice DY Chandrachud said during the hearing of this case, “As the society changes, the rules of the society also change, so the law should not stand still.” “Obviously these rights are given in marriage. This has to be changed, marriage is a pre-condition of the rights of an individual, now one should think of changing the customs of the society.
“So that even non-traditional families can take advantage of the facilities of the law.” “Unsafe abortion is preventable. Our understanding of mental health needs further consideration. The environment of the pregnant woman should be taken care of. Married women can also be victims of husband’s coercion and rape.
She said, “Any woman can get pregnant even through non-consensual sex by her husband. Marriage should not be the basis of rights given to anyone. Even if a woman is not married, it does not take away her right to an abortion.
10 Important points
- “Before we embark on a discussion of the law and its application, it should be noted that we use the term “woman” in this ruling to include people other than cisgender women [sex assigned at birth] who may require access to termination medical insurance of their pregnancies”
- All women, married or not, have a “right to a safe and legal abortion process,” the court said. It held that distinctions between married and single women, under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, are unconstitutional. It violates the Right to Equality provided for in article 14 of the Constitution, the court ruled.
- “We are of the opinion that significant reliance should be placed on each woman’s own estimate of whether she is fit to continue and carry her pregnancy to term.” “While much of the benefit of the law was (and is) rooted in the institution of marriage, the law in modern times is shedding the notion that marriage is a precondition for the rights of women. persons (alone or in relation to one another). Changing social mores must be taken into account when interpreting the provisions of a law to further its object and purpose.”
- A 1971 law, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTP), had limited the procedure to married women, divorced women, widows, minors, “disabled and mentally ill women,” and survivors of sexual assault or rape.
- The high court added that sexual assault by spouses can be classified as “spousal rape” under the MTP. Indian law does not consider marital rape a crime, although efforts are being made to change this.
- “A woman can become pregnant by choice irrespective of her marital status,” it stressed, further linking it to Fundamental Rights. “In case of an unwanted or incidental pregnancy, the burden invariably falls on the pregnant woman affecting her mental and physical health. Article 21 of the Constitution recognises and protects the right of a woman to undergo termination of pregnancy if her mental or physical health is at stake.”
- “The right to reproductive autonomy is closely linked to the right to bodily autonomy. As the term itself suggests, bodily autonomy is the right to make decisions about one’s own body. The consequences of an unwanted pregnancy on both the woman’s body and her mind cannot be underestimated. The fetus depends on the body of the pregnant woman for sustenance and nutrition until she is born. The biological process of pregnancy transforms the woman’s body to allow this. The woman may experience bloating, body aches, twitching, morning sickness, and restricted mobility, to name a few of a number of side effects. (Abortion law in India)
- In addition, complications can arise that put the woman’s life at risk. A mere description of the side effects of a pregnancy cannot do justice to the visceral image of forcing a woman to continue with an unwanted pregnancy, so the decision to carry the pregnancy to term or terminate it is firmly rooted in the right to bodily autonomy and autonomy of decision. and the pregnant woman.
- “Prohibiting single women or single pregnant women (whose pregnancies are between twenty and twenty-four weeks) from accessing abortion and allowing married women to access it during the same period would contravene the spirit that guides article 14. The law should not decide the beneficiaries of a statute based on narrow patriarchal principles about what constitutes “permissible sex”, which create envious classifications and exclude groups based on their personal circumstances”.
- “The proscription contained in the POCSO Act does not actually prevent adolescents from engaging in consensual sexual activity… The taboos surrounding premarital sex prevent young adults from attempting to access contraception. For limited purposes to provide medical abortion services in terms of the MTP Law, we clarify that the RMP, only at the request of the minor and the minor’s guardian, does not need to reveal the identity and other personal data of the minor in the information provided under Section 19 ( 1) of the POCSO Law”. (Abortion law in India)
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