ABC v State of Maharashtra: The way forward for Reproductive and Decisional Autonomy

Toshita Joshi & Shishir Kumar Rai

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 was introduced to ensure safe and legal access to abortion facilities for women. The Act, while being a significant legislation, has several impediments in form of insufficient infrastructure, lack of privacy, and below par awareness. The case comment deals with an appeal against the decision of Medical Board which denied abortion facility to the Petitioner on the ground that the gestation period was beyond 24 weeks despite the fact that the foetus has severe abnormalities. The authors briefly deal with the introduction and the facts of the case and delve into the in-depth analysis of the judgement. The authors emphasize on the reproductive choices of a woman which have been traced as a facet of personal liberty and dignity under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Through the case note it is highlighted that the socio-economic, mental and physical state of the woman is to be taken into account before reaching the decision by the Medical Board and the courts. Furthermore, it is observed that the report of the Medical Board is not binding and it is the duty of the court to apply its judicial mind while dealing with such cases. The authors further underscore that there should be purposive and not literal interpretation of beneficial legislations and effort should be to widen the gambit of rights available to the citizens in the light of a transformative constitutionalism.

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