Supreme Court upholds woman's right to abort without husband
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The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of an estranged wife for undergoing an abortion without her husband's consent and ruled that an adult woman had an unimpeachable right to give birth or terminate the pregnancy. The Punjab and Haryana high court too had earlier dismissed the husband's plea saying termination of pregnancy was the sole prerogative of the woman.

The couple had got married in 1994 and had a son in 1995. However, the woman and her son had left the husband to stay with her parents in Chandigarh in 1999 due to discord. On the orders of the Lok Adalat in Chandigarh, the couple started living together in November 2002. In January 2003, the woman discovered that she was pregnant but as there were no signs of improvement in their relationship, the wife decided to terminate the unwanted pregnancy in a Chandigarh hospital. The husband refused to sign the hospital papers for medical termination of pregnancy but the woman, her parents, and her brother went ahead with the abortion.

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 (Medical Termination of Pregnancy) Act (MTP).

The doctors appealed against this in the Punjab and Haryana HC, which dismissed the suit before the trial court saying that, " If the wife has consented to matrimonial sex, it does not mean that she has consented to conceive a child. It is the free will of the wife to give birth to a child or not. The husband cannot compel her to conceive and give birth to his child." The HC had ordered the husband to pay a cost of Rs 25,000 to each respondent. The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the HC stating that since the relation between the couple was strained prior the pregnancy and termination of pregnancy did not lead to a sour relationship, express or implied consent of the husband is not required for getting pregnancy terminated under the MTP Act...
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