India’s Supreme Court has granted a rule that all female citizens of India, regardless of their marital status can decide to take abortion for up to 24 weeks after contraception.
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.
Before now, the law only granted married women up to 24 weeks and single women up to 20 weeks to get an abortion.
Aparna Chandra, an associate professor of law at the National Law School of India, who works on reproductive justice said:
Now, all the rights that married women have, single women, will also have. The court has broken away from the stigma that is attached to single women getting pregnant.
In 2021, the law was modified 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, but single women who have probably had unprotected sex we’re not in those categories.
Speaking on the new development, Supreme Court lawyer Karuna Nundy said:
“Internationally, judgments affect each other, and this is a landmark one because it recognizes a woman’s right over her body and reproductive freedom regardless of what governments and legislatures might say.”
The declaration came after a single woman in a consensual relationship was denied an abortion by a lower court in July because she was past 20 weeks in her pregnancy.
Later that month, the Supreme Court authorized her to get an abortion up to her 24th week of pregnancy, and on Thursday extended that right to all women.