Misinterpretations of the MTP Act reflect the failure of the legal system to treat vulnerable pregnant women as persons capable of making decisions concerning their body.
Apart from the abuse going completely unnoticed by her school and family, the court’s denial of an abortion will inflict even more violence on this child.
While the courts deliver pro-women judgements around abortions, parliament has delayed passing much-needed amendments to the MTP Act.
Irrespective of the marital status of women, access to safe abortion services and quality post-abortion care, including counselling, need to be legally guaranteed.
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There is a need to de-stigmatise the termination of pregnancies and allow for late term abortions since a woman’s right to abortion is a necessary condition for her reproductive autonomy.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 needs to be amended to better address the varying concerns of Indian women – be they rape survivors, married women or sexually active single women.
However, since courts usually adhere to recommendations of medical boards in such cases, it is unclear what remedy a pregnant woman has if the board rules against her.
Amendments to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act have been hanging fire for some time now, jeopardising the access to safe abortions for lakhs of Indian women