ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Womb of One's Own: Privacy and Reproductive Rights

In the context of the privacy judgment (Justice K S Puttaswamy v Union of India 2012a), we examine two reproductive rights issues that have featured prominently in recent public discourse: abortion and surrogacy. In this piece, we outline how the privacy judgment provides a much-needed impetus to the legislature to resolve potential constitutional challenges to laws on these two issues.

Safe Abortion as a Women's Right

A study conducted among law enforcement officials in seven countries across Asia by the Asia Safe Abortion Partnership to measure the level of knowledge, attitude and awareness of women’s rights as well as safe and legal abortion shows lack of understanding about the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act and the subsequent amendments. Many lawyers believe that even if it did become a regular component of the law curriculum, there would be few takers, given the low potential for such cases in the practice. In the current environment, where the issue of implementation of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act tends to wrongly overshadow discussions on safe abortion and the MTP Act, these views are important as they affect the way safe abortion is perceived as a women’s right and have an impact on restriction or liberalisation of women’s access to safe abortion services.

Contrived Confusions

Ethical dilemmas surrounding abortion, particularly the conflict between human and legal rights of a childbearing woman and the so-called rights of an unborn child, are quite legitimate. However, the pro-life activists should desist from treating a woman as mere receptacle for the unborn child, taking away her inalienable right to control her own body.

Unsafe Abortions and Women's Health

Although unsafe and illegal abortions claim many lives and severely damage women's health, international conventions on providing safe facilities for women have not had much success. A rights-based perspective on the issue.
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