Supreme Court of India. Image: Canva/Onmanorama

All married and unmarried women entitled to safe, legal abortion: Supreme Court

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday declared that unmarried women can seek abortion of pregnancy in the term of 20-24 weeks arising out of consensual relationship.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, JB Pardiwala and AS Bopanna delivered the verdict on the interpretation of the MTP Act, and whether unmarried or single women can be allowed like their married counterparts the benefit of abortion up to 24 weeks.

The apex court said that excluding a single, unmarried woman in a live-in relationship from the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules is unconstitutional. 

"Distinction between married and unmarried women under abortion laws is artificial, constitutionally unsustainable," the SC said.

"Distinction between married and unmarried perpetuates stereotype that only married women are sexually active," it added.

The court added that the 2021 amendment to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTP) does not make a distinction between married and unmarried women.

The bench, on August 23, had reserved its verdict on interpretation of the MTP Act provisions which makes a distinction between married and unmarried women on the issue of abortion till 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Currently, the law allows abortion up to 24 weeks for special categories of women including survivors of rape, victims of incest and other vulnerable women (like differently-abled women, minors) etc. 

Opinion of only one provider will be required up to 20 weeks of gestation and of two providers for termination of pregnancy of 20-24 weeks of gestation.

Name and other particulars of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated shall not be revealed except to a person authorised in any law for the time being in force.

(With PTI inputs.)

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