Bombay High Court: Women should be allowed to terminate an unwanted pregnancy
"How she wants to deal with this pregnancy must be a decision she, and she alone, can make."
In a landmark decision, the Bombay High court on Wednesday said that a woman should be "allowed to opt out of an unwanted pregnancy irrespective of the reason". The High Court also said that it was making such a decision to protect a woman's right to "lead a life of her choice".
The decision was arrived at by a division bench comprising of Justices VK Tahilramani and Mridula Bhatkar on Monday. The bench said that Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act should also include other women who "stay with their partners as married couples in live-in relationships" and not just married women.
However, the Court also laid down certain rules to be kept in mind before the woman undergoes an abortion:
- A woman to undergo abortion immediately if she was pregnant for less than 12 weeks
- If she was pregnant for 12 to 20 weeks a consent of two medical practitioners was required
- In those cases where the pregnancy was risky for the mother's health or the unborn baby, the woman must be allowed to terminate the pregnancy under the same timeline as mentioned above , even if there was not a big risk to her "physical health".
The observations were made by the High Court suo motu (which means on its own) after a news report brought into light that pregnant women prisoners were not being allowed to terminate their pregnancy by the jail authorities.
"Pregnancy takes place within the body of a woman and has a profound impact on her health, mental well-being and life. Thus, how she wants to deal with this pregnancy must be a decision she, and she alone, can make," the bench said.
"The right to control their own body and fertility and motherhood choices should be left to the women alone. Let us not lose sight of the basic right of women: the right to autonomy and decide what to do with their own bodies, including whether or not to get pregnant and stay pregnant. This right emerges from her right to live with dignity as a human being in society and protected as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution," the judges said.
"Not allowing a woman to terminate her pregnancy amounts to grave injury to her mental health," they added.
Precautions after an abortion
As the High Court said an abortion can indeed have a profound impact on the physical and metal health of the woman, which is why it is important to take care after a woman terminates her pregnancy. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Bleeding might last for one to three weeks after the abortion and it can be heavy, moderate or light depending on your overall physical health. However, very heavy bleeding must always be reported to your doctor.
- Menstrual-like cramps are quite normal after an abortion, but if you're experiencing heavy abdominal cramps with severe pain, show it your doctor.
- You will get your normal period three to six weeks after an abortion, failing which it is recommended to consult a gynaecologist.
- Heavy exercises should be avoided three to four weeks after an abortion.
Also Read: Conceive after abortion-dos and dont's
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