December 6, 2022

New Delhi, Sep 29: The Supreme Court on Thursday said that unmarried women are also entitled to seek abortion of pregnancy in the term of 20-24 weeks arising out of a consensual relationship. It emphasized that all women are entitled to safe and legal abortion, and the distinction between married, unmarried women is unconstitutional.

A bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said the exclusion of unmarried women, who conceive out of live-in relationship, from the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules is unconstitutional. “All women are entitled to safe and legal abortion,” said the top court. The judgment in the matter will be uploaded later in the day.

It added that the rights of reproductive autonomy give an unmarried woman similar rights as a married woman. The top court noted that the 2021 amendment to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, does not make a distinction between married and unmarried women.

The top court said the artificial distinction between married and unmarried women cannot be sustained. “Women must have autonomy to have free exercise of rights…,” noted the bench.

On August 23, the Supreme Court had said it would interpret Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act and the rules to eliminate the discrimination between married and unmarried women for allowing abortion till 24 weeks of pregnancy.

On July 21, the top court had allowed a 25-year-old to abort her 24-week pregnancy arising out of a consensual relationship.

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