India’s Supreme Court Gives Equal Abortion Access to All Women
The Supreme Court, in its judgement has said that unmarried and single women whose pregnancy is between 20 to 24 weeks will also have the right to abortion like married women. The Court said that not allowing unmarried women the right to abortion between 20 to 24 weeks is a violation of the right to equality before law under Article 14 of the Constitution. It also ruled that under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act or MTP Act, rape would include marital rape as well. This means, if a woman has unconsensual sex with her husband, she has the right to undergo abortion. It can be permitted if backed by medical opinion for reasons such as:
- The pregnant woman would be at risk if she continues the pregnancy.
- If it causes grave injury to the medical or physical health of the woman.
- If the child born would suffer from a serious ailment. It allows pregnancy to be terminated up to 24 weeks after it is backed by 2 medical practitioners for reasons such as:
- If the woman is a victim of sexual assault or rape.
- If the woman is a minor.
- If the woman is in an emergency situation that is declared by the Government.
- If the woman is mentally unwell or has some major physical disability.
If a woman wants to terminate her pregnancy beyond 24 weeks on the ground of foetus abnormalities, a four-member board has to be consulted.
The SC bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud has said, “It’s ultimately the prerogative of each woman to decide as per her material circumstances. Various economical, cultural, or social factors play a part…”