All women, married or unmarried, have right to legal and safe abortion : Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment on September 29, held that all women have the right to a safe and legitimate abortion and it is unconstitutional to distinguish between married and unmarried women in the matter.

Important facts

  • The Supreme Court said that even unmarried women have the right to abort a fetus between 20 and 24 weeks of age arising out of consensual relations.

  • The court held that depriving married or unmarried women the right to terminate unwanted pregnancies is a violation of fundamental rights.

  • A bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud was hearing an appeal by a woman who wanted to abort a 24-week-old foetus after her relationship with a man failed and her partner abandoned her.

  • The bench also ruled that the definition of rape under the Medical Abortion Act should include marital rape.

  • A division bench of the Delhi High Court had refused to grant any interim relief to the woman.

About Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971

  • Abortion in India has been a legal right under various circumstances since the introduction of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act in 1971.

  • The Act was amended in 2003 to enable safe and legal abortion of women.

  • The Act was also amended in the year 2021.

Major Provisions of MTP Amendment Act, 2021

  • Under this Amendment Act, abortion can be done in the following circumstances -

  1. If there is any danger to the life or mental health of the mother by continuing the pregnancy

  2. If there are any serious abnormalities in the fetus

  3. If pregnancy occurred as a result of failure of contraception (but this is applicable only for married women)

  4. If the pregnancy is the result of sexual assault or rape

  • A pregnancy up to 24 weeks can be terminated in different circumstances after taking the opinion of two registered medical practitioners.

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