The Gender Beat: Court Says Women Can End Pregnancy Regardless of Reason; Govt to Oppose Triple Talaq in SC

A round-up of what’s happening in the worlds of gender and sexuality.


The Bombay high court on Monday said that the scope of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act should extend to the “mental health” of a woman. Credit: Reuters

Women should be allowed to end pregnancy regardless of reason: Bombay high court

Endorsing the right of a woman to “lead a life of her choice”, the Bombay high court has held that the scope of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act should extend to the “mental health” of a woman and she should be “allowed to opt out of an unwanted pregnancy irrespective of the reason”.

A division bench of Justices V.K. Tahilramani and Mridula Bhatkar on Monday said, the benefits of the Act must be extended to not just married women but also to those women who “stay with their partners as married couples in live-in relationships,” PTI reports.

The court maintained that though the Act provided for a woman to undergo abortion if she was pregnant for less than 12 weeks and with the consent of two medical practitioners if she was pregnant for 12 to 20 weeks, in cases where the pregnancy posed a risk to the health of a woman or to the foetus, she must be allowed to undergo abortion during the same timeline even if there was no risk to her “physical health”.

“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.”

Search engines agree to block pre-natal gender testing advertisements

Three online search giants – Google, Yahoo and Microsoft – have agreed to block advertisements for gender determination tools in India following an order by the Supreme Court.

In a bid to save India’s female babies, earlier this year the Supreme Court had instructed the tech companies to stop publishing ads promoting sex discrimination kits, tools and clinics.

According to Quartz, the three companies had argued that blocking keywords pertaining to these ads would also block other unrelated sites and scholarly material. Justice Dipak Mishra, the judge on the case, said, “You can’t say that you are not technically equipped. If you say you are, get out of the market.”

The companies had been told to adhere to India’s laws or “cease operations” in the country.

Despite the initial pushback, the three companies have now agreed to block 22 keywords relating to prenatal gender testing, according to Bloomberg.

India has one of the world’s most skewed sex ratios. In 1961, there were 976 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of seven. According to the Census 2011, that figure had dropped to 914 and in each of the country’s 29 states, boys outnumbered girls in 2011.

Government to oppose triple talaq in Supreme Court

The Centre will oppose the triple talaq practice in the Supreme Court on the grounds of women’s rights, terming it as “inalienable” and asserting that the issue should not be seen from the prism of uniform civil code, PTI reports.

The Ministry of Law and Justice will file a consolidated reply on the issue in the Supreme Court by the end of September.

Home minister Rajnath Singh, finance minister Arun Jaitley, defence minister Manohar Parrikar and women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi recently met to deliberate on the government’s possible stand in the Supreme Court on the issue of Muslim practices of polygamy, triple talaq and nikah halala – a practice where divorced women, in case they want to go back to their husbands, have to consummate a second marriage.

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