The Kerala High Court ruled on Wednesday that a woman’s right to exercise her reproductive choice, to procreate or refrain from procreation, cannot be restricted.
Justice VG Arun upheld the Supreme Court’s decision in Suchita Srivastava v. Chandigarh Admn, which declared that a woman has the freedom to make reproductive choices as part of her personal liberty under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Article 21 of the Constitution defines a woman’s right to make reproductive choices as a component of her personal liberty.
The Court also referred to a more recent Supreme Court decision in which it was determined that prohibiting unmarried women from terminating pregnancy after 20 weeks is a violation of Article 14.
The Court was hearing a plea from a 23-year-old MBA student seeking to terminate her pregnancy as a result of consensual intercourse with a classmate.
The petitioner’s contention was that she became pregnant due to contraceptive failure and discovered her pregnancy only after receiving an ultra sound scan. She claimed she had done the scan on the recommendation of a doctor she had seen regarding irregular menstrual periods and other health discomforts. She claimed, however, that she had no idea she was pregnant at the time since she has Polycystic Ovarian Disease.
The petitioner said that after learning she was pregnant, she became mentally and physically troubled, and to make matters worse, the classmate with whom she was in a relationship departed the country for further studies.
As a result, the petitioner opted to terminate her pregnancy because she was worried that continuing her pregnancy would worsen her stress and mental anguish. She stated that she believed that having a kid would have an influence on her education and capacity to earn a living. However, when the pregnancy had reached 24 weeks, none of the hospitals were willing to terminate it. As a result, she approached the Court.
Taking into account the medical board’s assessment that continuing the pregnancy could endanger the petitioner’s life, the Court allowed her to terminate the pregnancy in a government hospital and directed the hospital in question to form a medical team to carry out the procedure.
The Court also noted in its decision that if the baby is born alive, the hospital must provide the finest medical care available.