SC: Unmarried women can have abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy

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The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that an unmarried woman, like married women, can have an abortion up to 24 weeks under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act. According to the Supreme Court, sexual assault by husbands can take the form of rape, and the definition of rape under the MTP Act and Rules for the purposes of abortion must include the definition of marital rape.

The rulings came as the Supreme Court was set to rule today on whether an unmarried woman in a consensual relationship can seek abortion of pregnancy of 20-24 weeks term.

According to Justice DY Chandrachud, the interpretation of the MTP act must reflect social realities. As society changes, social mores change and evolve, and laws must not remain static in order to advance the cause.

“Unsafe abortions are preventable. Our understanding of mental health has to be considered in common parlance. Account must be taken of a pregnant woman’s environment,” the Supreme Court said.

“Married women may also form part of survivors of sexual assault or rape. A woman may become pregnant due to a non-consensual act by her husband. Sex and gender-based violence in all its form have been part of families,” Justice Chandrachud said.

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