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  • The Supreme Court expanded the scope of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act to include unmarried women on Thursday, allowing a 25-year-old woman to abort her 24-week pregnancy arising from a consensual relationship.
  • "A woman's right to reproductive choice is an inseparable part of her personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution, and she has a sacrosanct right to bodily integrity," the Supreme Court stated.
  • According to a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant, and AS Bopanna, "Denying an unmarried woman the right to a safe abortion is an infringement on her personal autonomy and freedom. This Court has recognised live-in relationships ".
  • It asked the Director of AIIMS, Delhi, to form a Medical Board in accordance with the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act by Friday. It stated, "In the event that the Medical Board concludes that the foetus can be aborted without endangering the petitioner's life, a team of doctors at the AIIMS shall carry out the abortion in accordance with the request made before the High Court..."
  • The bench stated that before doing so, the woman's wishes must be ascertained again and her written consent obtained after proper identification, and that a report must be provided to this Court within one week of compliance with this order.
  • "In the meantime, we believe that allowing the petitioner to suffer from an unwanted pregnancy would be contrary to the intent of the law enacted by Parliament," it said. 
  • Furthermore, on a proper interpretation of the statute, allowing the petitioner to terminate her pregnancy falls within the scope of the statute, and the petitioner should not be denied the benefit because she is an unmarried woman." 
  • It went on to say that the distinction between married and unmarried women has nothing to do with the basic purpose and object sought by Parliament, as expressed specifically in Explanation 1 to Section 3 of the Act.
  • The bench noted that the High Court, in its July 15 order, stated that because the petitioner is an unmarried woman whose pregnancy resulted from a consensual relationship, her case is "clearly not covered" by any of the MTP Act's rules and provisions. 
  • According to the bench's analysis of the statute's explanations, explanation one expressly contemplates a situation involving an unwanted pregnancy caused by the failure of any device or method used by a woman or her partner for the purpose of limiting the number of children or preventing pregnancy.
  • "The Parliamentary intent, therefore, is clearly not to limit the MTP Act's beneficial provisions to situations involving a matrimonial relationship."
  • "On the contrary, a reference to the expression "any woman or her partner" would indicate that Parliament intended a broad meaning and intent to be ascribed," it said.
  • According to the Supreme Court, in this case, the petitioner claims that she was abandoned by her partner at the final stage in June 2022, causing her immense mental agony, trauma, and physical suffering.


 

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