Advertisement

India’s top court upholds rights of unwed women to abortion

India's top court has upheld the right of a woman to an abortion regardless of marital status.

India's top court has upheld the right of a woman to an abortion regardless of marital status. Photo: AAP

India’s top court has upheld the right of a woman to an abortion up to 24 weeks into pregnancy regardless of marital status, a decision widely hailed by women’s rights activists.

The right to abortion has proved contentious globally after the US Supreme Court overturned in June its landmark 1973 decision in Roe v Wade that had legalised the procedure across the United States.

“Even an unmarried woman can undergo abortion up to 24 weeks on par with married women,” said Justice D.Y. Chandrachud of India’s Supreme Court, holding that a woman’s marital status could not decide her right to abort.

A law dating from 1971, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, had limited the procedure to married women, divorcees, widows, minors, “disabled and mentally ill women” and survivors of sexual assault or rape.

“The decision to have or not to have an abortion is borne out of complicated life circumstances, which only the woman can choose on her own terms without external interference or influence,” the court ruling said.

It added that every woman should have the “reproductive autonomy” to seek abortion, without consulting a third party.

Thursday’s decision came in response to a petition by a woman who said her pregnancy resulted from a consensual relationship but she had sought abortion when the relationship failed.

The ruling is a milestone for the rights of Indian women, activists said.

“It is a first step, it is a progressive step,” said Yogita Bhayana, founder of PARI (People Against Rapes in India).

The court added that sexual assault by husbands can be classified as marital rape under the MTP law. Indian law does not consider marital rape an offence, though efforts are being made to change this.

-Reuters

Topics: India
Advertisement
Advertisement
Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter.
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.