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HomeLegal NewsLandmark Judgement of Supreme Court: Abortion -A matter of right to all...

Landmark Judgement of Supreme Court: Abortion -A matter of right to all women

New Delhi : In a landmark judgement on reproductive rights, the Supreme Court extended the right to safe and legal abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy to unmarried and single women, saying it is the “right of every woman to make reproductive choices without undue interference from the State”. With this direction all women in the country, regardless of marital status, can undergo an abortion up to 24 weeks into pregnancy.

The bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, A S Bopanna and J B Pardiwala, was hearing a plea by an unmarried pregnant woman who had been in a consensual relationship but was denied the right to abortion because she was past the 20-week limit, made it clear that provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act cannot be interpreted to deny that right to single women beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy.

If the Act and Rules, the bench said, were “to be interpreted such that its benefits extended only to married women, it would perpetuate the stereotype and socially held notion that only married women indulge in sexual intercourse, and that consequently, the benefits in law ought to extend only to them”.“This artificial distinction between married and single women is not constitutionally sustainable. The benefits in law extend equally to both single and married women,” it said.

Article 21 of the Constitution “recognises and protects the right of a woman to undergo termination of pregnancy if her mental or physical health is at stake. Importantly, it is the woman alone who has the right over her body and is the ultimate decision-maker on the question of whether she wants to undergo an abortion or not. Depriving women of autonomy not only over their bodies but also over their lives would be an affront to their dignity,” it said.