The Indian Supreme Court earlier on Thursday gave a massive order regarding abortions and observed – “Women, married or unmarried, are entitled to safe and legal abortion”, Live Law reported. The order is being viewed as one of the most progressive orders to come from the Apex Court in the recent time and is widely appreciated on social media users.
The order came from the bench of Justice DY Chandrachud, JB Pardiwala, and AS Bopanna, who were hearing a case on the interpretation of the MPT (Medical Termination of Pregnancy) Act.
In its order, the Supreme Court bench observed that many married women are survivors of sexual assault and rape, and often become pregnant by non-consensual act by their husband. The bench ruled that pregnancy is solely a women’s prerogative and only circumstances such as economical, cultural and social, play a part in this.
The Supreme Court also observed that merely the marital status of a woman must not be the reason for her to be deprived of her right of abortion. It also ruled that woman – married or unmarried – will be entitled to terminate pregnancy within 24 weeks.
The Supreme Court bench gives its interpretation after a July order, in which the Court had allowed an unmarried woman to abort her 24-week-old foetus.
The Facts of the Matter
While states in US have already started ruling back safe abortion laws for women in the aftermath of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Indian Supreme Court upheld women’s rights to have safe abortion. In a historic ruling, the Supreme Court allowed women, single or married, to be able to terminate their pregnancies between 20 to 24 weeks.
3-Justice Bench of SC Passes Landmark Order
A bench of Justice DY Chandrachud, JB Pardiwala, and AS Bopanna was hearing a case that arose after the apex court in its July order had allowed an unmarried woman to abort her 24-week-old foetus.
“The rights of reproductive autonomy, dignity and privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution gives an unmarried woman the right of choice as to whether or not to bear a child on a similar footing as that of a married woman,” Justice Chandrachud was quoted saying in a The Hindu report.
Laws Equal for Single & Married Women
In the order, Justice Chandrachud maintained that the benefits of law are equal for both single and married women. He noted that if women are forced to carry out their term of pregnancies, the “state” would be stripping away their right to determine their life’s trajectory and would also deprive the women’s autonomy over not only their bodies, but also their lives.
Women have Autonomy to Take Decisions
Justice Chandrachud also maintained that women must have the autonomy to make decisions on rights regarding what contraceptives to use, right to chose free and legal abortion, right to whether have children or not, and more. He maintained that such rights must be reserved for women equally so that they can be free from violence and coercion.
What Prompted the Order?
The landmark order came after 25-year-old unmarried women filed a petition with the Supreme Court. Earlier, the woman had appealed to the Court as she is unmarried, she is not entitled to the abortion under the MPT (Medical Termination of Pregnancy) Act.
She had appealed that she was 23 weeks pregnant and her partner had already refused to marry her. She had submitted that she does not have the means to raise a child. On July 21, the Supreme Court allowed her to get the pregnancy aborted, provided that the medical board deems that it would not harm her.