Should Supreme Court ‘Legislate’ on Abortion?

October 29, 2022

Abortion isn't a lesser evil, it's a crime. Taking one life to save another, that's what the Mafia does. It's a crime. It's an absolute evil.” - Pope Francis

The greatest destroyer of peace is abortion because if a mother can kill her own child, what is left for me to kill you and you to kill me? There is nothing between.” - Mother Teresa

You cannot have maternal health without reproductive health. And reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortion.” - Hillary Clinton

Abortion is a subject on which many hold violently opposed views and others with ‘ifs’ and “buts” as reflected in the three quotes above. But, the Supreme Court judgment on the subject, delivered on September 29, 2022, and widely covered in the media, is hailed as progressive as it entitles all women a right to safe and legal abortion along with an emphasis on their right to bodily autonomy without authorisation from third party.

The historic judgment of the Supreme Court Bench led by Justice D Y Chandrachud that unmarried women in a consensual relationship are also entitled to safe abortion along with its strong emphasis on women’s right to bodily autonomy without the need for authorisation from a third-party to access abortion was welcomed as progressive and a ray of hope at a time sexual and reproductive rights have come under threat globally.

“This ruling interprets the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 in a progressive manner and questions the unreasonable classification made by this law. This interpretation is the law of the land and will ensure that single women seeking abortion beyond 20 weeks cannot be refused on the grounds of the narrowness of the law,” said a leading lawyer.

The SC judgment followed a petition seeking inclusion of unmarried women within the ambit of Rule 3 B of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules 2003 amended in October 2021 for abortion between 20-24 weeks of gestation period. The rule defines seven different categories of women who could access abortion within this gestation period, including survivors of sexual assault or rape or incest, minors and women with change of marital status during an ongoing pregnancy. Such women have to obtain permission from two doctors, who have to be of the opinion that the continuance of the pregnancy could either risk the life of the woman, or the child. For an abortion up to 20 weeks, permission from one doctor is sufficient.

The court also liberally interpreted Section 3 B and said a variety of changes in “material circumstances” could be grounds for seeking abortion between 20-24 weeks such as when “a woman loses her job or if domestic violence is perpetrated against her or if she suddenly has dependents to support” or when she is “diagnosed with an acute or chronic or life-threatening disease which impacts her decision on whether to carry the pregnancy to term.”

The Population Foundation of India recommends increasing the gestation period for all women as medical technology advancements have shown that abortion beyond 20 weeks is safe and certain foetal abnormalities can only be detected after 20 weeks.

One critical question remains to be answered. Is it the job of judiciary to reform deficient laws through judgments and forcing the individuals to take judicial route?

The subject is open to many views. What are yours? Your response is welcome in the format given below (Pl stream down a bit). Welcome to reason again.


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By John B Monteiro
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Comment on this article

  • Rita, Germany

    Fri, Nov 04 2022

    Here I Personally am against the abortion.Some people want because of good job and cant get if they tell she is pregnent ,they dont give it .Even I find it not necessary to offer a new life because of job.Then halt she can look for a other job.I heard many Nurses are coming to Mumbai tohave abortion and go back after few days to Gulf because pregnency is not allowed ?during their work permit ?I am against it.But during suppose woman is sick ,her life is in danger ,I do vote for it ,because I know how dangerous can be in in Jaundice case .well we here have liberal law.Even pregnency time we do have much freedom or even in motherhood can take up to 3years leave (if you can afford)to care the child with little pay too.If mother is earning more and father less ,mother works and father takes one or two years leave to lookafter the child.In whole Abortion is not good .Some women get emotionally upset later ,or sometimes after abortion they have problem to conceive.many hospitals are not doing hygenically ,so that womans life is in Risk.Be careful.

  • Gibbs, Udupi/Bengaluru

    Thu, Nov 03 2022

    Supreme Court judgment on 29th September, 2022 is the best for women in India and most of the concerned people. It has given the right of Abortion to Women without legal consequences if they wish for various reasons.

  • Ben D'Souza Prabhu, Mangalore, Bombay Bandra now in Canada

    Mon, Oct 31 2022

    It is my personal conviction that what our Loving God Created in His Way and Blessed saying Live Well and Multiply, it is His definite desire to prosper us all in His Divine Plann ! Let us remember, what we are doing is on our own"Free Will " is our concern ! There is NO SCOPE to ejudicate by anyone in our World !!!

  • John Monteiro, Bondel, Mangaluru

    Mon, Oct 31 2022

    Thanks Gabriel: I think we are driving the same point in different highway lanes. I agree with your sober observations and the whole exercise of this column is to provoke responses of the type you have done. I am sure that the topic-essay conveyed the point that it is the primarily the domain of parliament/government to set things right through laws and rules and not leave it to courts/judiciary to do corrective surgery/transplant via ruling on individual cases.

  • Gabriel Vaz, Bengaluru

    Mon, Oct 31 2022

    With due respects to you, I honestly fell that you seem to have missed the trees for the wood. I don't think the Supreme Court has framed laws but when the lawmakers have failed to discharge their duties to frame laws that are necessary or have drafted half-baked or wrong prescription of legislattiosn, what is the alternative other than judicial intervention? If the law-makers have not done their work, the citizens expect the judiciary to come to thier rescure by strking down ill-conceived provisions or laws and even widened the scope of provisions. If even the judiciary does not do its job of interpreting laws and laying down guidelines or limits, who will protect the interests of the aggrieved citizens? Should we not be considerate to the fate of unfortunate women, who may be compelled to take recourse to the exreme steps of resorting to abortions? Obviously, there are wider implications and several aspects to be considered before forming any opinion. I believe that one must be broad-minded and be compassionate besides applying their minds objectively, impassionately and due consideration of all relevant factors! These are issues that require wider discussion and debates.

  • Daniel, Mangalore

    Sat, Oct 29 2022

    This liberal laws on abortion or murder of innocent almost worldwide But Divine Laws, warning, Divine Judgements are clear in a message to John Leary dated Tuesday, June 30, 2015: “My people, in the first reading you are reading of how My angels were leading Lot and his family out of Sodom before it was destroyed by fire. The angels warned them not to look back at this destruction, but Lot’s wife looked back, and she was changed into a pillar of salt. In America and many countries, you are seeing the many sins of abortion, same sex marriage, fornication, adultery, masturbation, and prostitution. The stench of your sins, and the angels of the aborted children are rising to heaven as a witness against your people. At the end of the Antichrist’s reign during the tribulation, you will again see the fire of My justice fall upon the earth in My Comet of Chastisement. I will raise My people up so they are not killed by the comet. Then I will recreate the earth, and I will bring My faithful down into My Era of Peace as a reward for their obedience to My laws. Be prepared to suffer the coming Christian persecution, as My angels will protect My people at My refuges.”

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