[Answered] Discuss the significance of the recent Supreme Court’s judgment that gives equal abortion access to all women.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Write some significance of the recent Supreme Court’s judgment that gives equal abortion access to all women. Also write some issues with it.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

In a significant ruling on reproductive rights, the Supreme Court recently ruled that all women, regardless of their marital status are entitled to safe and legal abortion till 24 weeks of pregnancy. It has ruled over a 51-year-old abortion law (The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971) which bars unmarried women from terminating pregnancies which are up to 24-weeks old.

Significance of this judgment:

  • It upheld the right of reproductive autonomy, dignity and privacy under Article 21 of all women and girls to make reproductive choices for themselves.
  • It addresses the hurdles faced by minor girls in accessing abortion, due to the provision of mandatory reporting.
  • The Court also addressed sexual violence within marriage and recognised marital rape as a condition for abortion up to 24 weeks.
  • Now abortion rights under MTP Act are also available to cis-gender women.
  • Access to abortion is critically tied to preserving and upholding the human rights of pregnant women, girls, and others, and hence to attaining social and gender justice.
  • Legalisation of abortions will also discourage the illegal practice of abortions done through untrained, unauthorised paramedics which are hazardous for the health and future fertility of the child bearer.
  • If women with unwanted pregnancies are forced to carry their pregnancies because of legal constraints, it would affect the generations that are going to come.

Issues:

  • This could be used by unscrupulous women to harass their husbands.
  • The women outside marriages and in poor families are left with no choice but to use unsafe or illegal ways to abort unwanted pregnancies.
  • There is concern many that it may be a precursor to the court finally criminalising marital rape.

At a time when sexual and reproductive health and rights are under threat globally, this progressive judgment stands out as a ray of hope. As unsafe abortions remain a major cause of maternal mortality, it is a significant verdict that advances the cause of safe abortion services.

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