Husband’s consent not needed for abortion: SC

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The Supreme Court has ruled that “no express or implied consent of the husband is required for getting a pregnancy terminated”, dismissing a man’s petition seeking damages from his estranged wife for undergoing an abortion without his consent. An adult woman has an “unimpeachable right” to give birth or terminate the pregnancy, the court added.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a man’s petition seeking damages from his estranged wife for undergoing an abortion without his consent. The court ruled that an adult woman had an unimpeachable right to give birth or terminate the pregnancy.

According to a report in the Times of India, an SC bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice D Y Chandrachud upheld the decision of the HC, which had said, “Keeping in view the strained relations between the husband and wife, the wife’s decision to terminate the unwanted fetus was right. The termination of pregnancy had not soured the relations between the two… So, 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.”

The CJI-headed bench further fortified the HC ruling by adding, “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?”

According to the Times of India report, the said couple got married in 1994 and had a son in 1995. Due to discord, the wife and son had been staying with her parents in Chandigarh since 1999. During the pendency of the wife’s petition seeking maintenance, the Lok Adalat in Chandigarh had mediated and persuaded the couple to live together in the husband’s house in Panipat. In November 2002, they started living together and in January 2003 discovered that she was pregnant.

As the relationship showed no signs of improvement, the woman wanted to terminate the “unwanted” pregnancy. The man objected. She contacted her parents, who took her to Chandigarh. The husband refused to sign the hospital papers for medical termination of pregnancy but the woman went ahead with the abortion at a Chandigarh hospital.

The man filed a civil suit against his wife, her parents, and brother, and the doctors for recovery of Rs 30 lakh towards damages on account of mental pain, agony and harassment. He argued that the termination of pregnancy without any medical need and without the consent of the unborn child’s father was illegal under the MTP Act.

Source : Times Now

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