The India Supreme court on Thursday had ordered that all women irrespective of their marital status should be allowed to perform legal abortion within the 24 weeks of pregnancy.
The order is in line with Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, as delivered by a bench of justice DY Chandrachud, JB Pardiwala and AS Bopanna in the interpretation of tbe (MTP) Act.
Justice DY while reading out the judgement said, “If Rule 3bc was to be interpreted that it applies to married woman it would mean that unmarried does not involve in sex. thus the artificial distinction between married and unmarried women cannot be sustained.”
“Each woman’s circumstances are unique. a woman in a situation of emergency or disaster may decide to have the child but it may also impact the choice of a woman who may think pregnancy is not viable to keep.
“It is the prerogative of a woman. Mention of divorce and widowhood in Rule 3 b c does not hinder our decision. Women may undergo seachange in life other than separation like fetal abnormality as this may lead to the same mental situation.”
The bench of justices noted that the difference between married and unmarried women under the laws is “artificial and constitutionally unsustainable”, stating that it’s a stereotype to say it’s only married women that are sexually active.
However, the justice noted that survivor of rape and other vulnerable women are also allowed to perform legal abortion, explaining that widow can also perform legal abortion.
While observing the need to fine-tune the order if the court, the top court explained that it would include women who suffer desertion irrespective of marital status, to the seven categories of women who can perform abortion.
The Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati representing the centre told the top court that discrimination is not in the Act passed by the Parliament, affirming that if the court wants to intervene, it should also be applied to the MTP Rules, 2003.
Bhati affirmed that there is no discrimination under the MTP amendment Act of 2021, stating that categorisation has been provided in the relevant rules under the Act.