A Womb is her Right
The article ‘A Womb is her Right’ by Azimathul Marshiya scrutinizes the reproductive rights of women in India. Under the Indian Constitution, Reproductive right is a fundamental right of an individual woman. It is the decision of her own whether or when she has to get pregnant. The decision of a woman must be without coercion and violence. The sexual and reproductive right of a woman includes the right to privacy, the right to health, the right against discrimination, etc.
Tradition and culture play an important role in gender inequality. Indian women have been treated as homemakers and caretakers since time immemorial. In the patriarchal society, women were exclusively used for childbirth and rearing them. Child marriage, early pregnancy or repeated pregnancy of expecting male offspring impacted women’s health and the fatal consequences. Women are also blamed for infertility which would be questionable for the rest of life. It’s completely inequality and gender discrimination against women.
Gender equality is a basic human right that cannot be violated. But there is certain ignorance of women in various opportunities and decision-making. The Indian constitution has guaranteed the personal liberty of every person. The reproductive right is the personal liberty of every individual woman. That shouldn’t be compelled or coerced by anyone else around her.
Reproductive rights around the Globe
Worldwide 90% of countries allow abortion when the woman’s life is at risk or in cases of rape or incest. UN Treaty Monitoring Bodies (TMBs) have called on States to permit abortion when the pregnancy poses a risk to the woman’s life. It is the obligation of the State to provide safe, legal and effective access to abortion when the life and health of the pregnant woman or girl are at risk, when a pregnancy term would cause substantial pain or suffering or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or is not viable.
The States should employ a broad interpretation of a threat to the woman’s life. Life-threatening include both medical and social conditions of a woman. Social condition is the most dangerous threat to a woman’s life where pregnancy implicates family “honour,” i.e. pregnancy out of wedlock could subject a woman to physical violence or death. Every woman entitles to freely decide the no.of.children, spacing between the children and family planning.
Reproductive rights of women in India
There should be a regulation for safe abortion services to avoid unwanted fertility and maternal death. In India, every day, 13 women die from unsafe abortion-related causes or maternal death. Sexual and reproductive right is the personal liberty for women guaranteed under the Indian Constitution. Reproductive right is not only carrying the pregnancy in full term and giving birth to a child. It also includes health, dignity, privacy and integrity. Since abortion is a criminal offence the Indian Government allows it under The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021 for the termination only up to 24 weeks by the doctor under “good faith” or “grave physical or mental injury”. The pregnancy can also be terminated when there is the risk of the child being born with a physical or mental “abnormality”.
The word abnormality is not defined anywhere in the MTP Act of 1971. In the case of Mrs Pooja Kumari v. Gnctd & Ors, [W.P.(C) 16607/2022], the Delhi HC J.Prathipa M Singh took assistance from the Statutes of the UK, US and Florida, the abnormality includes the “physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped”, “severe fetal impairment” or “fatal fetal abnormality”.
It further held that the medical termination could be done in more than 24 weeks if it risks a mother. In Justice K.S. Puttaswamy and Anr. v. Union of India, (2017) 10 SCC 1, reproduction is the constitutional right of women guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection), 1994 prohibits identifying the sex of the foetus and elimination of the foetus if it is of the unwanted sex.
The sexual and reproductive rights of women in India are still negligible. Women have sexual autonomy which leads to the importance of personal liberty. Sexual and Reproductive right ensures that women live free from gender-based discrimination, family-based violence, forced sterilization, fertility, sexually transmitted diseases, etc. Reproduction is the right of every woman that should not arise from coercion, discrimination or risk of bodily integrity.
 The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Available Here
 The Constitution of India, Available Here
 Indian Penal Code, Available Here
 MTP (Amendment) Act, 2021, Available Here