New Delhi, July 15 Reproduction and abortion was a basic fundamental right and a matter of choice for every women, stated a public interest litigation (PIL) filed in the Supreme Court challenging the existing laws that criminalise abortion.
The current legal framework imposed immense financial and social hardship on women. Also, the time taken in adjudication was also detrimental to the health of woman, it stated and added, a women from rural and economically backward areas hardly had the wherewithal to move courts for enforcement of their right.
The Indian Penal Code criminalises abortion. The law sanctions punishment for the mother as well as for the abortionist, if they were to abort a child where the life of the mother is not at risk. Currently, abortion after 20 weeks is allowed only if the life of mother is in danger, or the foetus cannot survive.
The petition moved under the Article 32 categorises the issue as fundamental right to safe abortions, right to health, reproductive choice and right to privacy of women.
After the initial hearing, a Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi issued notice to the Centre.
The petition sought to draw the apex court's attention to safe abortion and restriction on the reproductive choice of women. "It severely, drastically and irreversibly affects women of the country and is not a regional issue pertaining to any particular state", said the petition filed through advocate Sansriti Pathak.
The petitioner also contended that reproduction and abortion was a matter of choice for women and abortion should be allowed anytime irrespective of the age of fetus.
The PIL is seeking liberalisation of certain provisions related to termination of pregnancy as health measure when it risks mental or physical health of the woman, pregnancy arising from sex crime, and when there is substantial risk to the child from deformities and diseases.
The PIL has urged the court to issue directions to Centre to take steps to provide access to safe abortion to all women, especially those belonging to socially and economically backward sections.