Unmarried Woman’s Right to seek an Abortion: Supreme Court Schedules a Hearing for August 10 and Requests the Union’s Opinions

The Supreme Court considered ways to expand the benefit of Section 3(2)(b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, to unmarried women so they can also seek medical termination of pregnancy when the period exceeds 20 weeks but does not exceed 24 weeks on Friday in response to a plea from a 25-year-old unmarried woman seeking medical termination of her 24-week pregnancy.

The Court had issued an ad-interim order on July 21 that stated, at least in theory, that a woman’s right to an abortion cannot be denied just because she is single and that there is no good reason to exempt single women from the MTP Act’s coverage.

Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and J.B. Pardiwala were on a bench that asked Additional Solicitor General Mr. Aishwarya Bhati to submit a note before the next hearing date and provide the court with rulings on the matter. On August 10, the matter will be heard again.

According to Justice Chandrachud, one way to make the provision applicable to everyone, regardless of marital status, is to strike down the phrase “for the purposes of clause(a)” in Explanation 1 to Section 3(2) because it is “manifestly arbitrary and violates the woman’s right to autonomy and dignity.”

The prior time, the Apex Court had given notice to the Union Government and requested Ms. Bhati’s help in interpreting the pertinent MTP Act clause.

The petitioner had requested authorization from the High Court to have an abortion, but it had been denied. It was noted that none of the Clauses under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules, 2003 directly apply to unmarried women whose pregnancy results from a consensual relationship.

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