Judicial

India’s Supreme Court extends abortion up until 24 weeks regardless of woman’s marital status

By Dave Andrusko

Following a series of rulings that have extended the “right” to abortion to later in pregnancy, the India Supreme Court “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,” Reuters reported.

The 1971 Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act originally had limited abortion “to married women or in cases of rape or a threat to the mother’s life up until 20 weeks,” according to CNN’s Manveena Suri and Jack Bantock.

 “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,” Tanvi Mehta and  Suchitra Mohanty reported.

In extending the law to include abortions for “all women” up to 24 weeks, the Supreme Court ruled that the differentiation between married and unmarried was not “constitutionally sustainable.” The distinction “would perpetuate the stereotype that only married women indulge in sexual activities,” the court added. “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. “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.”

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