The Supreme Court concluded today that all women have the right to a safe and lawful abortion procedure. And that it is illegal to differentiate between married and unmarried women in this regard.
The court also recognized marital rape in the landmark decision by the bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, AS Bopanna, and JB Pardiwala, however only as it relates to abortion.
The court decided that marital rape must b included in the definition of rape under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act. This finding might set the stage for forthcoming decisions regarding marital rape, a contentious issue in the nation.
Judge Statement :
“Married women may also b included in the group of rape or sexual assault survivors. Regardless of whether such forced sexual contact takes place in the context of nuptials. The common definition of rape is sexual contact with a person without their consent or against their will “The judge said.
The court ruled that even unmarried women would b allow to end an undesired pregnancy at 24 weeks. And stated that a woman’s marital status cannot b use as a justification to deny her the right to an abortion. According to the court, it is against their fundamental rights to deny single or unmarried women the ability to terminate an unplanned pregnancy.
It claimed that making a distinction between married and single women for the sake of the abortion regulations is “artificial. And constitutionally unsustainable” and feeds the myth that only married women engage in sexual activity.
“It is impossible to overstate the effects that unintended pregnancy has on a woman’s body and mind. Until it is born, the fetus depends on the body of the pregnant woman for nutrition. Pregnancy biologically changes a woman’s body. The right to bodily autonomy and the pregnant woman’s decisional autonomy strongly support either carrying a pregnancy to term or terminating it “The judge stated.
According to the verdict, if women with unintended pregnancies are obliged to carry their pregnancies to term. The State would b robbing them of the freedom to choose the short- and long-term course of their lives.
A 25-year-old single woman’s petition led to the historic decision. The woman had filed an appeal against a Delhi High Court decision. That stated that because she was single and the pregnancy was the result of a consenting relationship, she was not entitle to an abortion under the Act. The pregnant woman had stated that she was 23 weeks along.
She had disclosed before the Supreme Court that her partner had turned down their engagement. She stressed that she lacks the resources to raise a child while stating that she is the oldest of five siblings and that her parents are farmers.
On July 21, the woman was permit by the court to abort the foetus after a medical board said it wouldn’t harm her. The bench had then stated that clauses of the 2021 amendment to the abortion law now use the term “partner” instead of “spouse.” This, according to the court, shows that Parliament wasn’t need to limit an abortion situation to just a married partnership.
The center was given a notice by the court to respond to the issue of marital status about the appropriateness of abortion. On August 23, it postponed deciding how the abortion law should be interpreted.