February 3, 2023
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On Abortion And Marital Rape, Supreme Court’s Massive Order

The Supreme Court concluded today that all women have the right to a safe and lawful abortion procedure and that it is illegal to differentiate between married and unmarried women in this regard. The court also recognised marital rape in the landmark decision by the bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, AS Bopanna, and JB Pardiwala, however only as it relates to abortion.

The court decided that marital rape must be included in the definition of rape under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act. This finding might set the stage for forthcoming decisions regarding marital rape, a contentious issue in the nation.

A 25-year-old single woman’s petition led to the historic decision. The woman had filed an appeal against a Delhi High Court decision that stated that because she was single and the pregnancy was the result of a consenting relationship, she was not entitled to an abortion under the Act. The pregnant woman had stated that she was 23 weeks along.

She had disclosed before the Supreme Court that her partner had turned down their engagement. She had stressed that she lacks the resources to raise a child while stating that she is the oldest of five siblings and that her parents are farmers.

On July 21, the court gave the woman permission to abort the foetus as long as a medical board found that it wouldn’t harm the woman. The bench had then stated that the word “partner” has been substituted for “spouse” in the 2021 amendments to the abortion statute. This, according to the court, demonstrates that Parliament did not intend to limit the availability of abortion to just married relationships.

The centre had been given notice by the court to respond to the issue of marital status in relation to the right to an abortion. It had withheld judgement on how the abortion statute should be interpreted as of August 23.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

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