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Abortion Is A Criminal Offence In India And Women Can’t Decide If They Want One But That’s Set To Change

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We’ve been really progressing as a country, at least legally. First, we celebrated the decriminalisation of same-sex relationships, and now, we have hopes we’ll rejoice over decriminalisation of abortion in India. The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a PIL which seeks full right to remain with women to choose whether to go ahead with their pregnancy or not. Right now, it is legal to terminate a pregnancy, but under “severe restrictions” imposed by the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.

So currently, according to this act, after 12 weeks of pregnancy, you will need the nod of two doctors to go for an abortion. The petition said, “The provision imposed severe restriction on the exercise of the reproductive choice of the woman by providing for a precondition of an opinion by the medical practitioner about there being a risk to the life of the lady or of grave physical or mental injury or risk of serious fetal abnormalities if the pregnancy is continued.”

Now, it is ridiculous that you have to rely on two other humans for the decision on your own pregnancy. It’s not like the doctors are going to come and raise the child for you, or keep it in their womb. The petition read, “The right to exercise reproductive choice is the right to choose whether to conceive and carry pregnancy to its full term or to terminate is it at the core of one’s privacy, dignity, personal autonomy, bodily integrity, self-determination and right to health recognised by Article 21 of the Constitution.”

ALSO READ: How To Effectively Avoid An Unwanted Pregnancy

They argued that the MTP Act violates the other fundamental rights of women. The law shouldn’t compel a woman to continue a pregnancy, if she wants it to be terminated. At the end of the day, a pregnancy comes with physical, mental and socio-economic consequences and a woman should be able to decide for herself if she is ready for it.

The petition also questioned the 20 weeks deadline, when safe abortions were possible as late as 26 weeks. “Restricting the permissible length of pregnancy to 20 weeks is excessive and harsh. With the advent of science and technology diagnosis of fetal abnormalities is possible at subsequent stages and with the advancement of science and technology it has become possible to terminate pregnancy even at later stages,” the plea said.

The petitioners include Swati Agarwal, Garima Sekseria and Prachi Vats and their plea will be heard by a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta. We’re hoping this is the start of something good and finally, India will have more humanitarian abortion laws. However, it will not change the mindset of people overnight, but at least we are hoping legal support will make up for it!

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