Monday, Sep 26, 2022
×
Outlook.com
×
Cover Story

Surrogacy, Abortion: Two Contentious Issues Arising Out Of Reproductive Rights For Women In India

India was among the first countries to develop legal frameworks that guaranteed access to abortion and contraception, yet there are impediments in women and girls exercising their complete reproductive rights, like the Surrogacy Act, 2021.

Birth rights: From the collection at the Bihar Museum, Patna

In June this year, the Supreme Court allo­wed an unmarried pregnant woman to get an abortion after being examined by the medical board of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. The court wanted the woman, who was in the 24th week of her pregnancy, examined to determine whether the pregnancy could be safely terminated without endangering her life. The bench, headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, observed that letting an unmarried woman suffer an unwanted pregnancy would be contrary to the spirit of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act. The Apex Court observed that in the new MTP Act, amended in 2021, the word ‘husband’ has been replaced by ‘partner’, indicating the legislative intent to cover unmarried women.

The woman had challenged Rule 3B of the MTP Rules, 2003, which allows only some categories of women to seek termination of pregna­ncy between 20 to 24 weeks. Stating that it wou­ld be a restrictive interpretation of the MTP Act and Rules to limit the right of abortion exceeding 20 weeks to only married women, the bench observed that the petitioner should not be denied the benefit merely on the grounds that she is unmarried. The 25-year-old Mani­p­uri woman had told the court that the pregna­ncy was a result of a consensual relationship. She could not give birth to the child as her partner had refused to marry her.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement