Voices: Supreme Court's verdict on women's right to abortion hailed

The Supreme Court ruled the rights available to married women to abort a foetus would also be available to unmarried ones

International Safe Abortion Day

International Safe Abortion Day

HYDERABAD: The Supreme Court, on Thursday syncing with International Safe Abortion Day, ruled the rights available to married women under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act,1971, to abort a foetus would also be available to unmarried ones and NewsTAP spoke to women from different walks of life to elicit their views on the judgement.

The bench, led by Justice D Y Chandrachud, referred to a global health study conducted by the British Medical Journal which had concluded that 67 per cent of abortions were unsafe. It added that denying access to safe abortion would increase people resorting to unsafe abortions. The court said married women also become pregnant on account of a non-consensual act by the husband and that such abortions were also legal.

Doctor from Hyderabad Dr Pakhal Saketha said, "The Supreme Court's ruling is upholding women's right to mental and physical health. A decision regarding abortion doesn't come easy and takes a toll on overall health. A woman's choice about her health is a personal decision and should not be put to question by anyone. It's a welcome change for many doctors who face legal and moral dilemma facing many such situations."

Dr Pakhal Saketha

Advocate from Hyderabad Manmahek Kaur Bagga said, "The historical perspective on Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971, did not let women undergo abortion for unwanted pregnancies. Hereafter, the new amendment to MTP Act, 2021, can be considered a very beneficial step in India's legal framework on abortion. It is a progressive step in the development of the country and it also sets an example for other developed countries, where, unfortunately, abortions are still restricted. The main benefit of this step would be to save majority of women's lives. Whether married or unmarried, women have to go through mental and physical stress, (oftentimes the societal pressure is added to it) due to unwanted pregnancies which lead to suicides. The new rule is definitely beneficial. However, one thing has to be taken care of – this change does not give rights to medical practitioners to cross any lines while planning or performing abortions. First save a life to enable a new life," she added.

Advocate Manmahek Kaur Bagga

Women and Child rights worker from Hyderabad Hima Bindu said, "This is excellent, especially after the whole Roe vs Wade episode that shook people from across the world. This is a sign that marital rape is being systemically acknowledged and the fact that marriage is not a criteria for gender-minorities to indulge in sexual activities comes out loud and clear. Moreover, this is a giant leap forward to break the stigma around (consensual) sex and unwanted pregnancies in conventional Indian societies — that a person has complete authority over her body, and it's nobody's business, not even the State's to dictate terms to them about it!"

Women and Child right worker Hima Bindu

An IT professional and a startup founder Amita Anne said: "On the occasion of International Safe Abortion Day, the Supreme Court has given a significant verdict on women's right to get an abortion done. I would say that this is a significant milestone in the journey towards progress. Verdicts like these actually make you sit and reflect back on how far we've come and how much more is left to conquer. It is a privilege for every woman of the country to witness this. Kudos for upholding the fundamental rights of every woman!"

Founder of Twiny Tales Amita Anne

Assistant Professor in Department for Social Work, St. Francis College for Women, Geeta Gianchandani, said "Irrespective of whether the woman is married or not, the health of the mother should not be put at risk. If a young woman was abused or raped which leads to her pregnancy, what can be done during such circumstances? Is there any other possibility than abortion? Hence the decision of terminating the pregnancy should be solely based on the circumstances, health conditions, financial stability and the willingness of the woman. I am in favour of the verdict that was passed by the supreme court."

Assistant Professor at St Francis College for Women Geeta Gianchandani

- Inputs by @Anusha_Puppala and @Aishwarya_1910

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