Why is it in the news?
- Recently, a three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India urged a married woman to reconsider her decision to terminate her third pregnancy, which has exceeded 26 weeks.
More about the news
Views of the Court
- The court emphasizes the importance of the woman’s right to reproductive autonomy but also considers the rights of the unborn child.
- Though the court acknowledges the woman’s depression and her inability to care for a third child but questions why she waited for 26 weeks before taking action.
- The woman’s counsel clarifies that she does not wish for a medical termination but prefers a C-section, as she has a one-year-old second child and does not want to carry the third pregnancy to full term.
- However, concerns are raised about the potential risks to the child if immediate interference in the pregnancy occurs.
Additional Solicitor General
- The Additional Solicitor General highlights the woman’s vulnerable state and efforts to counsel her, including discussing the possibility of adoption and mental health support.
Abortion Laws in India
- Medical termination of pregnancy governed by the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
- Provisions in IPC largely criminalized abortions except when done to save a woman’s life.
- No distinction between wanted and unwanted pregnancies.
- Limited access to safe abortions for women.
Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971:
- Enacted by Parliament to decriminalize abortion in specific circumstances.
- Considered a health, humanitarian, and eugenic measure.
- Allowed termination of pregnancy under Section 3(2) if it didn’t exceed 20 weeks.
- Abortion within 12 weeks required one doctor’s opinion, and between 12 to 20 weeks required two doctors’ opinions.
2021 Amendment to Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971
- Rule 3B extended abortion access up to 24 weeks for specific situations such as Change of marital status during ongoing pregnancy (widowhood and divorce); Survivors of rape; Victims of incest; and Other vulnerable women (differently-abled women and minors).
- Replaced “by any married woman or her husband” with “any woman or her partner,” expanding the law’s coverage to pregnancies outside marriage institutions.