On abortion, Supreme Court has listened to women

Source– The post is based on the article “On abortion, Supreme Court has listened to women” published in The Indian Express on 3rd October 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- Vulnerable sections and judiciary

Relevance– Women empowerment

News– The article explains the recent Supreme Court ruling on the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act. It also explains the issues with the current legal framework for termination of pregnancy.

What are the issues faced by single women who want to terminate their pregnancy?

They are subjected to shaming, harassment and violation of their privacy by medical practitioners before being provided abortion services.

Women face stigma in Indian society on account of being single, unmarried and divorced.

What are the challenges for women in the current legal framework?

The amended provision of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act in 2021 extended the time limit for termination of pregnancy from 20 to 24 weeks. Only some categories of women like survivor of rape, women in disaster are eligible for pregnancy upto 24 weeks. It is not available to single mothers

According to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act of 2012, medical practitioners, who provide for abortion, should report sexual assault of a minor. This provision stops adolescent girls from having a safe abortion. They fear that their identity will be disclosed.

What are the positive aspects of Supreme Court ruling?

Unmarried women and single mothers

According to the Supreme Court ruling, single and unmarried women would also get the benefits of abortion upto 24 weeks.

Transgenders-Supreme Court ruled that abortion rights under MTP Act are also available to cis-gender women.

POCSO Act challenges– The Court held that for the limited purposes of providing medical termination of pregnancy under the MTP Act, medical practitioners need not disclose the identity and other personal details of the minor as required under the POCSO Act.

Marital rape– Supreme Court also recognized marital rape. It held that victims of marital rape are also eligible for an extended window of 24 weeks for termination of pregnancy.

The Supreme Court upheld the right of all women and girls to make reproductive choices for themselves, without undue interference from the state.

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