The Supreme Court of India on Thursday ruled that women who are pregnant from a consensual relationship outside wedlock are allowed to have abortions up to 24 weeks.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, JB Pardiwala and AS Bopanna said that the exclusion of unmarried women from the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act is unconstitutional. The bench ruled that the meaning of rape must be held to include “marital rape” for the purpose of the MTP Act.
The Court held that wives, who conceived out of forced sex by their husbands, will also come within the ambit of “survivors of sexual assault or rape or incest” mentioned in Rule 3B(a) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules, LiveLaw reported.
The apex court observed that denying access to safe abortion will increase people resorting to unsafe abortions.
The bench said the artificial distinction between married and unmarried women cannot be sustained and that women must have the autonomy to have free exercise of these rights, Indian Express reported.
The bench ruled pregnancy is the sole prerogative of a woman and the circumstances may vary for each and various economical, cultural or social factors play a part in this.