Supreme Court’s Ruling on Abortion
- The historic judgment of the Supreme Court Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud that unmarried women in a consensual relationship are also entitled to safe and legal abortion along with its strong emphasis on women’s right to bodily autonomy without the need for authorisation from a third-party to access abortion was welcomed as “progressive” and a “ray of hope” at a time sexual and reproductive rights have come under threat globally.
- This decision challenges the law’s arbitrary classification and advances the interpretation of its provisions.
- The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 Anubha Rastogi, independent attorney and CAG member, Pratigya Campaign, stated that this interpretation of the law will ensure that single women seeking abortions beyond 20 weeks cannot be denied on the grounds that the law is too restrictive.
- The decision came as a result of a petition asking for unmarried women to be covered by Rule 3 B of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules, 2003, as revised in October 2021, which permits abortions between 20 and 24 weeks of gestation.
Opinion of Eminent Jurists:
- “At a time when sexual and reproductive health and rights are under threat globally, this progressive judgment stands out as a ray of hope” – V.S. Chandrashekar
- “We hope that this judgment could be a step towards making our abortion regime more liberal and pro-women. The law must recognise abortion as a woman’s choice, as is the practice in over 70 countries” – Poonam Muttreja
- Activists and campaigners frequently lament that India’s abortion law is conditional rather than absolute, denying women agency because they must first obtain a doctor’s authorization.
- The Supreme Court stated that reproductive autonomy “means that every pregnant woman has the inherent right to choose to undergo or not to undergo abortion without any agreement or authorisation from a third party” on Thursday, acknowledging this gap and labelling the law as “provider-centric.”
Source The Hindu