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SC says Women Don’t Need Husband’s Consent for Abortion

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The SC on Friday rejected a man’s petition seeking compensation from his estranged wife for aborting their child without his consent. The apex court upheld that an adult woman has the blameless right to give birth or terminate a pregnancy.

Earlier the Punjab and Haryana High Courts had also discarded this petition saying that abortion depends solely on the woman.

Now, the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud has upheld Punjab and Haryana HC’s verdict.

“Keeping in view the strained relations between the husband and wife, the wife’s decision to terminate the unwanted foetus was right. The termination of pregnancy did not sour the relations between the two, as it had already been strained. So, keeping in view the legal position, it is held that no express or implied consent of the husband is required for getting pregnancy terminated under the Act,” the HC had said.

To this, the Supreme Court bench added, “She is a mother and an adult who says she did not want the pregnancy. How can she or others be made liable for it? Even a mentally challenged woman has a right to terminate her pregnancy. How can parents and doctors be made liable?” reported TOI.

ALSO READ: Equal Abortion Rights for Single Women?

The husband and wife married in 1994 and in 1995. They had their first child, a son. But their marriage did not work for long, and the woman left the husband’s house and started living with her parent since 1999.

She filed the divorce paper seeking maintenance in Chandigarh’s Lok Adalat. The judge convinced the couple to give their marriage another chance. So the couple started living together again in 2002. But in 2003 the woman found out that she was pregnant. While the marriage wasn’t going anywhere, she decided to abort the pregnancy. It is here that the husband protested and refused to sign the hospital papers. But it did not stop the woman from getting the abortion.

“She is a mother and an adult who says she did not want the pregnancy. How can she or others be made liable for it? Even a mentally challenged woman has a right to terminate her pregnancy. How can parents and doctors be made liable?” SC Judgment

Speaking of the SC’s decision, Mariam Dhwale of All Indian Democratic Women’s Association, told SheThePeople.TV, “We welcome that SC has upheld the woman’s right. Many times, families force their women to have children due to social tradition, etc. But ultimately a woman should get to decide if she wants to keep the pregnancy or abort the child. And not her family or the society, etc.”

Ravi Kant Advocate Supreme Court & President of Shakti Vahini opposes the judgment and says, “Procreation, or matrimonial sex happens between two consenting adults. Ideally, both parties should mutually agree to such decisions if they are in a marriage. Giving one party an unimpeachable right to abortion is not a right decision.”

“Sometimes such court decisions can play havoc in the lives of people. It is also important to understand that in a marriage a man also gets mentally attached to the unborn child. It is undeniable that the duties and rights of the Father start from the day the mother conceives the child.  Yes, if there is a medical urgency or any discord between a couple or a case of marital rape, then of course the women should have an unimpeachable right to decide,” he added.

 

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