Supreme Court: Only a woman has the right to give birth or opt for abortion
The honouarble court added a woman did not need her husband's consent and that, "She is a mother and an adult who says she did not want the pregnancy."
In an unprecedented move, the Supreme Court observed that only a woman has the right to give birth or terminate her pregnancy.
The honourable court reportedly upheld the ruling of Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissing a husband’s plea who was seeking damages from his estranged wife who underwent an abortion.
The case actually started in 2001, at a time when the couple were estranged. As Scroll reports, “The couple were married in 1994, and had a son in 1995. They were separated between 1999 and 2002. After they began living together in November 2002, the woman discovered she was pregnant in January 2003. Since their relationship was sour, she terminated the pregnancy in Chandigarh despite his refusal to sign the hospital papers.”
“Even a mentally challenged woman has a right to terminate her pregnancy”
In his petition, the husband also seeked Rs 30 lakh in damages from his estranged wife’s brother, her parents as well as the doctors for the ‘illegal’ abortion.
He also stated that he was subjected to harassment, mental pain and agony because of the abortion.
However, the Supreme Court bench that comprised of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A M Khanwilkar as well as Justice D Y Chandrachud upheld the 2011 High Court ruling that stated, “Keeping in view the strained relations between the husband and wife, the wife’s decision to terminate the unwanted fetus was right. The termination of pregnancy had not soured the relations between the two… 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 (Medical Termination of Pregnancy) Act.”
The court further 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?”
The SC also pointed at some of the poignant rulings made by the Hight Court, and agreed with them all.
- “If the wife has consented to matrimonial sex…it does not mean that she has consented to conceive a child.”
- “The woman is not a machine in which raw material is put and a finished product comes out. She should be mentally prepared to give birth to a child.”
- “Unwanted pregnancy could affect a woman’s health.”
Another addition to legal rights of women
This ruling comes at an opportune time and has given all woman legal rights over their decision to abort or keep a pregnancy. It looks like our apex court has added another crucial right to the already existing, as previously mentioned.
1. Right against domestic violence: This act protects a woman from any kind of domestic abuse at the hands of the partner, husband, in-laws or relatives, and a case can be filed by the woman or anybody on her behalf.
2. Right to no sexual harassment: It is required for every employer to create a Sexual Harassment Complaints Committee within the organization. As per a supreme Court guideline, it is compulsory for all private and public firms to set up these committees to resolve matters of sexual harassment. Also, the committee should be headed by a woman and must have a member from a women’s welfare group as one of its members.
3. Right to property: As per the Hindu Succession Act, men and women have equal rights over the property owned by their parents.