All Women, Married or Not Entitled to Safe Abortion Under Law: SC

The Supreme Court on Thursday said all women are entitled to choose abortion while pronouncing the judgement in the medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) case
All Women, Married or Not Entitled to Safe Abortion Under Law: SC
All Women, Married or Not Entitled to Safe Abortion Under Law: SC

The Supreme Court on Thursday said all women are entitled to choose abortion while pronouncing the judgement in the medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) case.

"The marital status of a woman can't be ground to deprive her right to abort an unwanted pregnancy. Single and unmarried women have the right to abort under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act and rules till 24 weeks of pregnancy," the court said.

"For purposes of abortion, rape will include marital rape," the top court said.

The court in its ruling further said, "Prohibiting single or unmarried pregnant women with pregnancy between 20-24 weeks from accessing abortion while allowing married women would fall foul of the spirit guiding Article 14.”

The court in its judgement said, "Law in modern times is shedding the notion that marriage is a precondition for the rights of persons. The MTP act must consider the realities of today and must not be restricted by old norms. The law must not remain static and must keep in mind changing social realities."

Expressing concerns over unsafe abortions, the apex court said, "Unsafe abortions continue to be the third leading cause of maternal mortality. 60% of abortions carried out in India are unsafe. By denying access to safe abortion services, restrictive abortion practices lead to unsafe abortions,” as reported by India Today.

"Married women may also form part of the class of survivors of sexual assault or rape. A woman may become pregnant as a result of non-consensual sex with her husband," the court added.

There is no need to register an FIR for rape for abortion to be allowed if a woman has claimed rape, even by a married partner," the court said.

The Supreme Court said that registered medical petitioners need not disclose the identity of a minor if she seeks an abortion under the POSCO Act.

"It is not the intention of the legislature to deprive minors of MTP. Social circumstances of a woman may have an impact on her decision to terminate," it said.

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