Supreme Court upholds woman's right to abort
The Supreme Court has dismissed a man's petition seeking damages from his estranged wife for undergoing abortion without his consent, and ruled that an adult woman had an unimpeachable right to give birth or terminate pregnancy.
In 2011, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had dismissed the man’s original civil suit against his wife, her parents, brother and two doctors. He had demanded Rs 30 lakh towards damages due to mental pain, agony and harassment because, he said, terminating a pregnancy without any medical need or the husband’s consent “was illegal” under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act.
The High Court had intervened after the two doctors filed an appeal. On Friday, refusing to interfere in the High Court’s decision, a Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said, “Keeping in view the strained relations between the husband and wife, the wife’s decision to terminate the unwanted foetus was right.” It added that the husband’s consent was not required.
“She is a mother and an adult who says she did not want the pregnancy. How can she or others be made liable for it,” the Supreme Court bench of justices asked. “Even a mentally challenged woman has a right to terminate her pregnancy. How can parents and doctors be made liable?”
In 2011, while dismissing the civil suit, the High Court had said, “If the wife has consented to matrimonial sex...it does not mean that she has consented to conceive a child.”
It had added: “The woman is not a machine in which raw material is put and a finished product comes out. She should be mentally prepared to give birth to a child.” Unwanted pregnancy would affect the woman’s mental health, the High Court had ruled.
Supreme Court of India