The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled the rights available to married women under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act,1971, to abort a foetus will also be available to unmarried ones.
The court ruled “all women — married or not — are "entitled to a safe and legal abortion process", the court said. It held that distinctions between married and unmarried women, under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, is unconstitutional. It violates the Right to Equality under Article 14 of the Constitution.
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. While stressing reproductive autonomy is closely linked to bodily autonomy, the court ruled that the right to choose contraception, the number of children and whether or not to abort have to be taken without the influence of social factors.
The judgment came in a case about whether an unmarried woman can seek abortion of pregnancy of up to 24 weeks arising out of a consensual relationship.
Pointing to the abortion rights for rape survivors, the court said married women may also form part of a class of survivors of sexual assault and rape as it is quite possible that a woman may become pregnant on account of a non-consensual act by the husband.