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SC expands scope of abortion Act to include "unmarried women"

Supreme Court of India

New Delhi: The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday allowing a woman to abort her 24-weeks pregnancy born out of a consensual relationship. The ruling has expanded the scope of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act to include "unmarried women", PTI reported.

The top court bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant, and AS Bopanna directed the AIIMS director to set up a medical board of two doctors to examine the woman- whose case the court was hearing- by Friday under the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act and to determine if the termination procedure could risk her life.

"We request the AIIMS director to constitute a medical board in terms of provisions of section 3(2)(d) MTP Act by tomorrow (Friday). In the event the medical board concludes that the foetus can be aborted without any danger to the life of the petitioner (woman), the AIIMS shall carry out the abortion in terms of the petition..." the bench said.

Further, the court sought the medical board's report within a week of the procedure on the woman. It added that the order of the Delhi High Court stands modified to the above extent.

The bench observed that provisions of the MTP Act amended in 2021 include the word "partner" instead of "husband" in the explanation to section 3, which shows the intent of Parliament that it was not to confine the situations arising only out of marital relationships. Thus "unmarried woman" also comes under the Act, which aligns with the Constitution.

The court also observed that the Delhi High Court had taken an unduly restricted view by not allowing the woman to undergo medical termination of pregnancy at 23 weeks arising out of a consensual relationship on the ground that she was "unmarried".

The bench also noted that she is the eldest of five siblings and her parents are agriculturists. It said that the woman has submitted that she is qualified in Bachelor of Arts and without an adequate source of livelihood, it would be difficult for her to raise and nurture the child.

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TAGS:Supreme Court pregnancy abortion woman Delhi High Court Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 
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