NEW DELHI: A one-of-its-kind study to assess the cases seeking court permission to abort has revealed that over last three years, nearly 200 writ petitions have been filed by women — many of them rape victims — at the Supreme Court and High Courts.
The study by Pratigya Camor Gender Equality and Safe Abortion has shown that between June 2016 to April 2019, 194 women approached the top courts — 21 petitioned the SC while the rest reached the HCs.
All cases petitioned at the SC were above 20 weeks of gestation, five of which were rape cases and 15 involved cases of foetal abnormalities.
The SC denied five and permitted 15 abortions.
Among the five cases denied by the court, three involved foetal abnormalities, where each case had a foetus between 26-28 weeks gestation.
The existing Medical Termination of Pregnancy act allows abortion before 20 weeks of gestation but the study found that many women, particularly rape victims with the foetus of less than that duration also had to knock at the doors of the court to access abortion.
VS Chandrashekar, CEO of the campaign, said that women with less than 20 weeks gestation approaching courts defy the provisions of the MTP Act and represent major problems in the access to abortion.
“These women have to further face a long and tiring process, where they are subject to examination before the medical boards, despite having consulted their own doctors. The entire process adds to the trauma for women and is a violation of their rights.”
Based on the findings, the campaign has proposed that the pending MTP amendment Bill should be expedited with a provision to allow abortion in all rape cases, regardless of gestation due to the associated mental and physical trauma.