Forced Impregnation Of A Married Woman Can Be Considered Marital Rape: SC

Forced impregnation of a married woman for the purpose of abortion can be considered “marital rape”, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, as it delivered a landmark ruling on women’s reproductive rights and bodily autonomy.

A bench headed by Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud held that the term “rape” under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act would include pregnancy due to coercive sex by husbands.

The bench said, “Married women may also form part of the class of rape survivors. Rape means sexual intercourse without consent, and intimate partner violence is a reality. In this case, also woman may get forcefully pregnant. Any pregnancy alleged to be caused by force by a pregnant woman is rape.”

The existing provisions of the law do not allow a single woman to have an abortion after 20 weeks while divorcees, widows and certain other categories of women are allowed to terminate the pregnancy up to 24 weeks due to mental anguish and some other hardship.

The bench further added, “Law cannot create such artificial classification based on narrow grounds…the decision to carry a pregnancy to full term or to abort it lies in reproductive autonomy of a woman, which is rooted in bodily autonomy. Depriving her of this right will be an affront to a woman’s right to dignity.”

The court was hearing the plea of ​​a 25-year-old unmarried woman, whose plea to terminate her 24-week pregnancy was rejected by the Delhi High Court, which advised her to give up the child for adoption.

Although the law made no distinction between married and unmarried women for termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks, the Center claimed that only certain identified women such as rape survivors, minors and mentally challenged women were included in the legal classification for abortion. Up to 24 weeks.