Home / News / India /  SC grants abortion right to unmarried women, acknowledges marital rape

The Supreme Court (SC) on 29 September said that all women whether married or unmarried are entitled to safe and legal abortion till 24 weeks of pregnancy.

In its order, SC stated, “marital status of a woman can't be ground to deprive her right to abort unwanted pregnancy. Single & unmarried women have right to abort under Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act & rules till 24 weeks of pregnancy."

Distinction between married and unmarried women under abortion laws is artificial, constitutionally unsustainable, SC said.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, JB Pardiwala and AS Bopanna delivered the verdict on the interpretation of the MTP Act, and whether unmarried or single women can be allowed like their married counterparts the benefit of abortion up to 24 weeks.

Earlier on 23 August, the bench had reserved its verdict on interpretation of the MTP Act provisions which makes a distinction between married and unmarried women on the issue of abortion till 24 weeks of pregnancy

The top court also added that sexual assault by husbands can take the form of rape and the meaning of rape must include the meaning of marital rape under the MTP Act and Rules for the purposes of abortion.

"Married women may also form the part of the class of survivors of sexual assault or rape. The ordinary meaning of the word rape is sexual intercourse with a person without consent or against their will. Regardless of whether such forced intercourse occurs in the context of matrimony, a woman may become pregnant as a result of non-consensual sexual intercourse performed upon her by her husband," SC said in its order.

The SC was pronouncing a judgement stating that unmarried women are also entitled to seek abortion of pregnancy in the term of 20-24 weeks arising out of a consensual relationship.

 

(More details awaited)

 

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