Supreme Court On Abortion Laws In India: The Supreme Court had recently said in a historic decision that not giving the right of abortion to an unmarried woman is a violation of her personal autonomy. Now the court has made up its mind to interpret the MTP Act.
New Delhi: Can unmarried women be allowed to abort 24 weeks pregnant on medical advice? to decide Supreme Court has decided to interpret the law. The Supreme Court will now interpret the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act and related rules after its landmark decision that denied the right to safe abortion to an unmarried woman as a violation of her personal autonomy. In order to decide whether unmarried women can also be allowed to terminate 24 weeks of pregnancy on medical advice. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice J. B. Pardiwala on Friday urged Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the central government, to assist the court in this endeavour.
Justice Chandrachud said, “If exceptions exist under the law, why should unmarried women not be included in women who terminate 24 weeks of pregnancy on medical advice?” (in law) the intention of the Parliament is clearly understood only by the word ‘partner’ in place of ‘husband’. This shows that he has put unmarried women in the same category as women who are allowed to abort at 24 weeks of pregnancy.’
What is in MTP Act?
The MTP Act allows access to abortion services for women up to a certain gestational age and subject to certain conditions.
- If the gestational period is within twenty weeks, a physician’s opinion is necessary to terminate the pregnancy.
- If the gestational period has exceeded twenty weeks but is less than twenty-four weeks, the opinion of two physicians is necessary.
- However, only certain categories of women, as notified by the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules, 2021, are allowed to have abortions from twenty weeks to twenty-four weeks.
- In cases of fetal anomaly, if the gestational period is more than twenty four weeks, the pregnant person should approach the medical board constituted by the state government or union territory administration.
Bhati said, “Experts have their own opinion in this matter and we need to place those views before the court.” There is a lot of risk in terminating a 24-week fetus and it can even kill women. The Supreme Court bench then allowed Bhati to apprise the court of the experts’ opinion and urged him to cooperate in the matter.
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