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Marital status no ground to deny abortion, Supreme Court rules in landmark order

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court noted that provisions in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, need to be modified according to the social realities and demands of the time.

Marital status no ground to deny abortion, Supreme Court rules in landmark order
Even unmarried women are entitled to legal and safe abortion: SC's landmark judgement

All women, irrespective of their marital status, are entitled to legal and safe abortion, the Supreme Court held on Thursday in a landmark ruling.

A bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud and comprising Justices AS Bopanna and JB Paridwala ruled that the distinction between married and unmarried women for the purposes of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act is artificial and unconstitutional as it assumes that only married women indulge in sexual activities, Live Law reported.  

Also Read: The need for abortion to be a part of Universal Health Coverage

Noting that the MTP Act of 1971, which has not been amended, only took into consideration married women at the time, the bench observed that provisions in the MTP Act need to be modified according to the social realities and demands of the time.

The court’s observations came while interpreting the MTP Act and the rules to eliminate discrimination between married and unmarried women for allowing abortion till 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Also Read: What do abortion laws and reproductive rights look like around the world?

In August this year, the top court, while allowing a 25-year-old unmarried woman to terminate her pregnancy of 24 weeks, pointed to the absence of any logical reasoning to allow a married woman to do so under the 1971 Act, but deny it to unmarried women, despite the risk factors being the same for both. 

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