Abortion: India Supreme Court says amended law to cover single women too
According to the Supreme Court of India, all women, including unmarried ones, are permitted to have an abortion up to 24 weeks.
Following a request for clarity regarding the 2021 abortion law amendment, which listed numerous groups but did not include single women among them, the court made its ruling.
The court ruled that every woman has the right to a safe and legal abortion, regardless of her marital status.
It stated that it would be “unconstitutional” to exclude unmarried women from consenting relationships.
Since 1971, India has had a severely skewed gender ratio despite the fact that abortions have been legal there since 1971. As a result of the millions of female foetuses that have been aborted over the years, the government has put strict restrictions on who is allowed to end a pregnancy. Sons have traditionally been favoured to daughters as children among Indians.
After the government amended the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTP) last year, a variety of women are now permitted to get abortions between 20 and 24 weeks.
The list included minors, people with mental illnesses, pregnant married women whose marital status had changed throughout the pregnancy, women bearing seriously abnormal foetuses, and rape survivors.
The decision on Thursday made it plain that since the amendment does not distinguish between married and unmarried women, it must also include unmarried women who are in consensual relationships.
The three-judge panel, which was made up of Justices DY Chandrachud, AS Bopanna, and JB Pardiwal, ruled that a woman’s marital status could not be used as a justification to deny her the right to end an unintended pregnancy.
The justices further stated that under this provision, husbands would be considered accomplices in rape.
Marital rape is not currently a crime in India. Sex “by a guy with his own wife” that is not a minor is not considered rape under current rules.
The Delhi High Court issued a divided decision in May in a petition seeking to repeal the British statute, with the two judges holding divergent opinions. The Supreme Court is now hearing the case.