Wednesday, October 5, 2022
India’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that all women, regardless of marital status, can obtain abortions up to 24 weeks into their pregnancies.
Previously, under India’s abortion law, married women could have abortions up to 24 weeks into their pregnancies, but single women were limited to 20 weeks. On Thursday, the court extended the 24-week period to all women.
The judgment was cheered by reproductive rights activists, who said the court had ensured that the law does not discriminate and expands the right to safe and legal abortions to single women.
“Now, all the rights that married women have, single women will also have,” said Aparna Chandra, an associate professor of law at the National Law School of India, who works on reproductive justice. In its judgment, the court “breaks away from the stigma that is attached to single women getting pregnant,” she said.
Abortion has been legal in India since 1971 under the Medical Termination Pregnancy Act. In 2021, the law was amended to allow certain categories of women -- including married women who were divorced or widowed, minors, rape victims or mentally ill women -- to obtain abortions up to 24 weeks, raising it from the previous 20 weeks. But the changes did not include single women, causing many to question why the law differentiated on the basis of marital status.