Safe, legal abortion : The Tribune India

Safe, legal abortion

SC recognises marital rape, unmarried women’s rights

Safe, legal abortion

PTI file photo

The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling that the marital status of a woman cannot be grounds to deprive her of the right to abort an unwanted pregnancy is a significant moment in the quest for personal autonomy and reproductive choices. The apex court’s interpretation of provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act leaves no room for any distinction between married and unmarried women. The concept is constitutionally unsustainable, the three-judge Bench said, and perpetuates the stereotype that only married women are sexually active. All women, even those who are single, are entitled to a safe and legal abortion till 24 weeks of pregnancy. It’s a welcome judgment.

Abortions have been legal in India since 1971. Strict rules have been put in place, over the years, for who can terminate a pregnancy considering the preference for a male child and abortion of female foetuses. Under the law, abortion is permitted till 20 weeks of pregnancy for all women on the opinion of a registered medical practitioner. Last year’s amended legislation increased the permissible time limit for abortion from 20 weeks to 24 weeks. However, it had limited the procedure to married women, divorcees, widows, minors, disabled and mentally-ill women, those with foetuses that had major abnormalities and survivors of sexual assault or rape. The court order clarifies that unmarried women in consensual relationships, too, are entitled to the same rights of reproductive autonomy.

Marital rape is yet to be criminalised in the country, but an important aspect of the ruling is that the definition of rape must include marital rape under the provisions of the abortion laws. Like rape survivors, the top court emphasised, married women may also form part of a class of survivors of sexual assault, having become pregnant on account of a non-consensual act by the husband. Non-disclosure of the identity of minors under the Act is another directive that is apt.

Tribune Shorts

Top News

India's economy to grow  6.5 per cent in 2023-24: Economic survey

India's economy to grow 6.5 per cent in 2023-24: Economic survey

The survey said the pace of price increases is not high enou...

Asaram gets life imprisonment in 2013 rape case

Gujarat: Court sentences Asaram to life imprisonment in 2013 rape case

81-year-old is currently lodged in a Jodhpur jail, where he ...

We will have to make an India which is self-reliant, says President Murmu in her address to joint sitting of Parliament

Fearless, decisive govt at helm, India emerging as solution-provider to world: President Murmu

Was addressing the joint sitting of both Houses of Parliamen...

Income tax raids held on 2 Jalandhar pastors

Income tax raids held on premises of 2 Jalandhar pastors

Baljinder Singh and Harpreet Deol Both are Pentecostal pasto...

Bridge collapse in Gujarat: Oreva Group MD Jaysukh Patel surrenders before court

Bridge collapse in Gujarat: Oreva Group MD Jaysukh Patel surrenders before court

135 people were killed in last year’s suspension bridge coll...


View All