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India Approves Equal Abortion Access For All Women

    India Approves Equal Abortion Access For All Women
    Last updated: 2 months ago
    Image credit: AP [via Fox News]

    Facts

    • India's Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that women, regardless of marital status, are allowed to obtain an abortion up until 24 weeks of pregnancy. Single women were previously barred from obtaining the procedure after 20 weeks. [1]
    • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTP) of 1971 had only provided the 24-week timeframe for women who were married, divorced, widowed, minors, "disabled and mentally ill," or survivors of sexual assault or rape. [2]
    • Speaking on the MTP, the court stated, "If Rule 3B(c) is understood as only for married women, it would perpetuate the stereotype that only married women indulge in sexual activities. This is not constitutionally sustainable." [3]
    • Though current Indian law doesn't consider marital rape an offense, the court added that sexual assaults by husbands are classified as rape under the MTP. Efforts are being made to change the current law on marital rape. [4]
    • The ruling came after an unmarried woman in a consensual relationship was denied an abortion in July because her pregnancy was past the 20-week mark. A lower court upheld the decision before the Supreme Court overturned the ruling, eventually granting the right to all women. [5]
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    Spin

    Left narrative

    While the US Supreme Court has chosen to move backward, the Indian high court is proving to be a 21st-century champion of progressive values. Not only does this ruling protect previously-vulnerable young women and girls, but it also shines a light on the long-overdue need to combat marital rape.

    Right narrative

    Applying the law equally and classifying marital sexual assault as rape are certainly commendable parts of this ruling. However, the heart of the decision - allowing abortion at such late a stage - is morally wrong. India has already legalized the killing of clearly-viable babies in the womb, and it's about time the country acknowledges its high rate of doing so. While all women should certainly have equal protection under the law, so, too should babies.

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