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“Woman Can’t Be Denied Abortion Of Unwanted Pregnancy Because She’s Unmarried”, Says Supreme Court

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Abortion laws across the world have become a hot topic of debate ever since Roe vs Wade ruling was overturned by the US Supreme Court. Amid all of this discussion, Indian laws came under fire earlier this week after an unmarried woman was denied permission to abort a pregnancy at 24 weeks after she claimed that she is not mentally ready to be a mother as her live-in partner refused to marry her after she got pregnant. In the petition, the woman stated that she was in a consensual relationship with her partner but she is not mentally prepared to give birth to a child out of wedlock as it would cause her psychological agony. The woman’s petition was denied by the Delhi High Court after which the woman approached the Supreme Court with an appeal. Hearing the plea, the Supreme Court passed an ad-interim order to allow the woman to abort her pregnancy.

While hearing the case, the Supreme Court bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud observed that Delhi High Court’s order took an “unduly restrictive” view on the provision of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act and deny the woman relief. The Apex Court allowed the woman to abort her pregnancy of 24 weeks provided that she undergoes a medical examination conducted by the medical board constituted by the AIIMS Delhi. The abortion will only be permitted if the Board concludes that the foetus can be aborted without any risk to the life of the woman.

The Top Court further noted that the 2021 amendment of the MTP Act used the word “partner” instead of “husband” in the explanation of Section 3 of the act. The Supreme Court stated that this indicates the legislative intent to cover unmarried women under the act. Speaking about the case, the Court observed in the order that the woman (petitioner) should not be denied abortion due to her marital status, as per a report by Live Law. The bench further stated that the intent is not to limit the benefits of the act to situations arising out of matrimonial relationships while adding that widow and divorced women are allowed to terminate their pregnancy during the term of 20 to 24 weeks.

Justice Surya Kant, who was also a part of the Supreme Court bench hearing the case, held that not permitting the woman to undergo an abortion will lead to her suffering an unwanted pregnancy which will be against the object and spirit of the MTP Act. “The distinction between a married and an unmarried woman has no nexus to the object sought to be achieved by the Parliament”, said the bench.

Also Read: Unmarried Woman Moves To Supreme Court After Delhi HC Denies Abortion

This Supreme Court ruling is not only a landmark judgement but is also a huge win for all unmarried women in the country. This judgement will ensure that unmarried women in future aren’t denied the right to abort an unwanted pregnancy. It clarifies the confusion, if any, in the MTP Act with regards to the marital status of a woman.

Hautetalk: How Roe V Wade, Anti-Abortion Laws, Social Attitude Burdens An Already Overpopulated Word

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