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Right To Abortion In India

Updated: Jan 15


When we talk about human rights, the main picture that clicks in everyone’s mind is ‘LIVE WITH DIGNITY’. Human rights are those rights that should be given to every citizen of the universe without any discrimination. But what happens when the right to life of one human being conflicts with the right to life of another human being Article 6(1) of the International Convent on Civil & Political Rights prohibits the arbitrary deprivation of life. Mostly, all the countries' constitution has a law- the right to life, but there are also many controversial issues related to the supremacy of “Right to Life”.

One such controversial issue against the right to life is the right to abortion of a woman. Like all other human beings, the woman has also right to choose her life whether she wants to be a mother or not, but the right to abortion is opposed to the right to life of an unborn child. In the eyes of this society, people consider abortion as a sin. Abortion is the termination of the pregnancy either by induced or spontaneous.

Earlier, The right to abortion was a crime in the eyes of law and as well as not a moral in the eyes of society. It was illegal and have sanction behind it till 1971. Provisions of The Indian Penal Code, 1860 make it punishable by section- 312 to 316. It was known as a crime and termed as the murder of the fetus. But due to vast changes in society and the way of living, education & technology, the right to abortion becomes legal in some countries and legal with only some conditions in some countries. The decision of Roe vs. Wade by the U.S Supreme Court encourages many countries to legalize the right to abortion of a woman.

Abortion is of two types-

Is Abortion Legal in India?

Abortion in India is legal in certain circumstances. It can be performed on various grounds until 24 weeks of pregnancy. After 24 weeks it can be legally performed only in exceptional cases which will be allowed by the court.

Till 2017, there was a dichotomous classification of abortion as safe or unsafe. Unsafe abortion is the abortion defined by the World Health Organization as a process for termination of a pregnancy done by an individual who does not have the necessary training or in an environment not conforming to minimal medical standards. By the time, the abortion technology has now become safer and has replaced safe or unsafe classification into a three-tier classification that is, safe, less safe, and least safe.

The definition of safe abortion- it provides by health care workers and with methods recommended by the world health organization. Less-safe abortion is the type of abortion done by trained providers using non-recommended methods or using a safe method but without adequate information or support from a trained individual. The least-safe abortion is the abortion done by a trained provider using dangerous, invasive methods.

In India, there are different punishments for people of different types of illegal abortion. There are so many conditions that prevail in the offence of abortion. Before the abortion, itself was an offence but now the legislature has imposed conditions upon it, now in some conditions, abortion is an offence. Otherwise, it is legal in India

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act was enacted with the main object to safeguard women’s health and to reduce illegal abortions. But even if its passage, unsafe abortion constitutes 9-20 per cent in India where women died due to the abortion.

A recent study published in Lancet Global Health estimates that only 22 per cent of 15 million abortions that occur in India every year takes place in a healthy private or public environment where 38 per cent happen outside the medical health basic facilities. All these conditions indicate the current level of laws which is not fulfilling its objective and calls.

Thus, the decision to terminate the pregnancy should be given to the women, not to the legislature. To do abortion the mother always made a hard choice to do it with her emotions, so there is no right of any third party to interfere in it, a woman has autonomy over her body and can decide on issues concerning bodily integrity. The right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the constitution of India encompasses the right to make reproductive choices. Thus, a law impeding the exercise of this right is a clear violation of Article 21.



Editor: Vijayalakshmi Raju

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