Should Abortion be Legalized in India?

By at 12 November, 2009, 4:33 pm

A pregnant woman near delivery - Source - Wikipedia

A pregnant woman near delivery - Source - Wikipedia

Right to Abortion: is it a right to choice or a right to legal murder? The issue is litigious as well as complicated to answer.  The pro-choice arguments which favour the rights of mother are contrary to the religious and spiritual pro-life arguments which consider the rights of the child.

The main concern posed in the debate of legalizing abortion is definitely that who’s right to life must be taken into account. A woman’s right to life definitely comprises her right to choice whether she wants the foetus or not.  On the other hand, rights of a father and that of the child cannot be ignored completely.

In India, the Medical termination of Pregnancy Act 1971, states under what conditions legal abortions may be performed:

  • The continuance of pregnancy involves a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or grave injury to her physical or mental health.
  • There is substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously challenged.
  • Pregnancy occurs as a result of failure of any contraceptive device or method used by any married woman or her spouse.
  • Pregnancy occurs due to rape.
  • If the pregnant woman is suffering from any kind of mental disorder or mental illness.

Abortion is a right that is exercised by a woman and not by a mother. It is not akin to a legal murder as the foetus is not a person merely due to impulse of a heartbeat. If abortion is “killing” a child then killing an animal must be equally or rather more severely punished.

It should be the woman and the woman alone who should decide whether she wants to continue with her pregnancy or not. Her right to choice cannot be superseded by religious, moral, societal or ethical norms because ultimately the unwanted child would be brought up by her. But in a country like India where gross female foeticide occurs out of social pressure it must be taken in into account that such mal practices are not legalized under the umbrella of right to choice.

Apart from the MTP Act 1971, Abortion must also be allowed under following conditions:

  1. If it is not purposefully for female foeticide.
  2. If the woman is single (unmarried, divorcee, separated or widow) and does not want to continue with her pregnancy.
  3. The period of abortion is only limited up to 20 weeks. In a leading case Niketa Mehta and Haresh Mehta, a couple who filed a petition in the court for seeking to abort their first issue who was destined to be born with acute medical anomalies were denied of this right because she was pregnant for 24 weeks.
  4. The couple does not have enough means for upbringing of the child.
  5. The couple already has a child and does not want another.
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