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Voice of the Commonwealth - The Global Influencer

Voice of the Commonwealth - The Global Influencer

India’s Supreme Court ruling on women’s abortion rights and marital rapes!

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NEW DELHI, India (CU)_In an historic judgment on abortion, the Supreme Court of India declared that all women, regardless of their marital status, have the right to a safe and legal abortion. According to a panel of judges headed by Justice DY Chandrachud, under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, the definition of rape must include marital rape. The verdict came a day after the world observed Safe Abortion Day.

The Supreme Court stated the following in its order.

  • “If Rule 3B(c) is understood as only for married women, it would perpetuate the stereotype that only married women indulge in sexual activities. This is not constitutionally sustainable. The artificial distinction between married and unmarried women cannot be sustained. Women must have autonomy to have free exercise of these rights.”
republicworld.com
  • “We would be remiss in not recognising that intimate partner violence is the reality and can take the form of rape. The misconception that strangers are exclusively or almost exclusively responsible for sex and gender-based violence is a deeply regrettable one.”
  • “Object of Section 3(2)(b) of MTP Act allowing woman to undergo abortion after 20-24 weeks..including only married and excluding unmarried woman will be violative of Article 14 (of the Constitution)”.
  • “The meaning of rape must therefore be understood as including marital rape solely for the purpose of the MTP Act and any other rules and regulations framed thereunder. Any other interpretation would have the effect of compelling a woman to give birth to and raise a child with a partner who inflicts mental and physical harm upon her.”
livelaw.in
  • The supreme court further highlighted that women may not need to initiate official legal processes in order to confirm the “factum of sexual assault or rape.” According to the court, “There is no requirement that the instance may be registered or the allegation of rape may be proved before a court of law or some other forum before it can be construed true for the purpose of the MTP Act. Such a requirement would be in conflict with the purpose of the MTP Act”.
  • “The rights of reproductive autonomy give an unmarried woman similar rights as a married woman.”
  • “State must ensure reproduction and safe sex is disseminated to all segments of the public to avoid unwanted pregnancies. The impact of continuing unwanted pregnancy on a woman has to take into account the social realities”.

In July, the Supreme Court allowed an unmarried 25-year-old woman to abort her 24-week pregnancy. The woman appealed to the highest court after the lower court refused her relief. She informed the court that the pregnancy was the consequence of an accepted relationship and that she chose to abort the pregnancy since the relationship had ended.

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