The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to the Centre after agreeing to hear a PIL filed by three women seeking directions to decriminalise abortion. The petition says women should have a right to decide on reproduction and abortion.
The PIL filed by the three women challenges the law that makes abortion permissible only to save life and seeks to decriminalise it. It further mentions that the restrictions and exceptions in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act violate women’s rights.
Swati Agarwal, Garima Sekseria and Prachi Vats, said in their plea, that a provision of the MTP Act permitted that the opinion of a doctor would be needed to terminate pregnancy and the abortion after 20 weeks can be allowed only if continuation of pregnancy poses a threat to the mother’s life. This violated the women’s right to health, reproductive choice and privacy, 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.
“The restriction puts an undue burden on the exercise of free reproductive choice and renders it meaningless. This provision in substance makes right to terminate pregnancy an exception which is otherwise recognized as an important facet of right to life, human dignity, autonomy and self determination,” it said
The petition also sought direction to declare section 3(2)(b) restricting the termination of pregnancy not exceeding 20 weeks on the ground of risk to the life of the woman or the child when born, as unconstitutional and void.
“The state cannot compel a woman to continue a pregnancy against her will when continuance of pregnancy will entail physical, mental and socio-economic consequences which far outweigh the consequences that ensue as a result of termination of pregnancy,” it said.
“Keeping in view the fact that India lacked robust diagnostic infrastructure especially in rural areas, complications in advance stages of pregnancy, change in physical/ mental/ socio-economic situation of the pregnant woman, the restriction of 20 weeks was excessive when safe abortions was possible as late as towards 26 weeks,” it said.
(With inputs from PTI)
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