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The Supreme Court on September 29 held that all women, whether married or unmarried, are entitled to a safe and legal abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. In its order, the SC said, “The marital status of a woman cannot be made a ground for denying the right to abortion to an unwanted pregnancy. Single and unmarried women have the right to an abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act and rules.

The SC held that the distinction between married and unmarried women under abortion laws is artificial, constitutionally untenable.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, JB Pardiwala and AS Bopanna ruled on the interpretation of the MTP Act, and whether unmarried or single women can be given abortion benefits up to 24 weeks like their married counterparts.

Earlier on August 23, the bench had reserved its verdict on the interpretation of the provisions of the MTP Act, which differentiates between married and unmarried women on the issue of abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

The top court also said that sexual harassment by husbands may take the form of rape and the meaning of rape should be included in the meaning of marital rape under the MTP Act and Rules for the purposes of abortion.

“Married women can also become part of a survivor of sexual assault or rape. The general meaning of the word rape is sex with a person without consent or against their will. Even if such forced intercourse occurs in the context of Whether or not marriage, a woman can become pregnant as a result of non-consensual intercourse performed by her husband with her,” the SC said in its order.

The Supreme Court was delivering a judgment which held that unmarried women are also entitled to abortion of pregnancy in the period of 20-24 weeks arising out of consensual relationship.

Written by – KARAN SURI


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