A woman is not a machine: SC upholds women's right to abortion
In 1994, a woman from Chandigarh got married to a man from Panipat. A year later, they had a son. But after a few years, the woman decided to go back to living with her parents due to a conflict with her husband. However, the Lok Adalat in Chandigarh, where she had petitioned for maintenance, mediated and convinced the couple to stay together in Panipat.
The couple got together at the end of 2012 and at the beginning of 2013, the woman realised she was pregnant. However, she did not want to have the child as she saw no improvement in her relationship with her husband. Hence, despite a lack of consent from her husband, with the help of her parents, she terminated the child in Chandigarh.
Agitated by this, the husband filed a suit in Haryana High Court asking for a compensation of Rs 30 lakh from the doctors and the wife's relatives. The reason he gave was that the abortion was not medically needed and done without his consent, causing him mental agony. However, the HC in a landmark judgement reaffirmed a woman's right to the child in her womb. According to The Times of India, the judgement read,
"If the wife has consented to matrimonial sex, it does not mean that she has consented to conceive a child. It is the free will of the wife to give birth to a child or not. The husband cannot compel her to conceive and give birth to his child. The woman is not a machine in which raw material is put and a finished product comes out. She should be mentally prepared….”
Not ready to rest his case, the husband approached the Supreme Court with the same suit. Upholding the HC's decision of dismissing the husband's plea, the SC stated the following, according to Lawmantra:
"Keeping in view the legal position, it is held that no express or implied consent of the husband is required for getting pregnancy terminated under the (Medical Termination of Pregnancy) Act. She is a mother and an adult who says she did not want the pregnancy. How can she or others be made liable for it? Even a mentally challenged woman has a right to terminate her pregnancy. How can parents and doctors be made liable?"
With this judgement, one cannot help but hope that we could be one step closer to criminalising marital rape in India.