“The touch of children is the delight of the body; the delight of the ear is the hearing of their speech”.
-The great Tamil Saint Thiruvalluvar
A mother has got a natural duty to provide the maximum best possible to her offspring. However, situations may arise where she indulges in activities, which injuriously affect the foetus. It may be due to ignorance, carelessness or acts done wilfully. Abortion is an issue to be left to the decision of the mother. However, taking viability of a legal standard, necessary protection should be provided to the unborn. It is also beneficial to the mother, where the state or voluntary organizations are ready to take care of the unborn. There is no meaning in conferring a right to the mother to destroy the foetus. Her right is limited to have a termination of pregnancy. It is also said that delivering 20 million babies annually would be a greater strain on the nation’s medical services and economic resources than, say, performing one to five million abortions a year.
Indian law allows abortion, if the continuance of pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or grave injury to her physical or mental health.
Abortion was being practised earlier by many. Because it was illegal, it was practised in a clandestine manner. The passing of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act made medical termination of pregnancy legal, with certain conditions for safeguarding the health of the mother.
Abortion is severely condemned in Vedic, Upanishadic, and smriti literature. Paragraph 3 of the Code of Ethics of the Medical Council of India says: I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception.
The Supreme Court has said that the right to privacy is implicit in Article 21 of the Constitution and a right to abortion can be read from this right.
The Indian Penal Code, 1860
The IPC, taking into consideration the social, emotional and medical implications of abortion, declares induced abortion as illegal all throughout India. Section 312 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 spells out abortion as causing miscarriage. It applies to a woman who carries out miscarriage on purpose. However, the word abortion is nowhere used in this section. Abortion would give miscarriage an essence of intention. Miscarriage technically would mean spontaneous abortion, whereas, voluntarily causing miscarriage, which is criminalised under Section 312, will stand for criminal abortion. A clear division among the two is lacking. However, the same section declares Therapeutic abortion as legal. In case there is danger pertaining to the life of the mother, the pregnancy can be discontinued. The unborn child in the womb must not be destroyed unless the destruction is for the sole purpose to preserve the life of the mother.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 further talks about the situations where a therapeutic abortion can be carried out by a registered medical practitioner. The act highlights in what situations can a pregnancy be terminated, the stipulated time such a pregnancy will be terminated, in what place will this termination take place, and who is authorised to conduct such a termination.
According to the act, a pregnancy can only be terminated under a few circumstances, such as, in situations where the continuation of a pregnancy would involve risks to the life of the mother, or involve grave physical or mental injury to the woman. The act also spells out voidable pregnancies such as in case of a lunatic woman. Further, the act specifies who is a registered medical practitioner and in what place will the termination of the pregnancy be carried on. The act also states that the pregnancy can be terminated in 12 weeks of pregnancy and the opinion of two or more medical practitioners is required if the abortion is done between 12-20 weeks for various reasons.
The Act does not permit discontinuation of pregnancy after 20 weeks. Medical opinion, as stated by the act, must be given in good faith. The term good faith is not described in the concerned Act, but in the IPC,1860, good faith means an act to be done in due care and caution.
The Constitution of India
Though ambiguous and unclear, the Constitution of India also talks about the idea of abortion. As stated before, the Right to abortion might come under the Article 21, if subjected to interpretations. Article 21 dictates the Right to life and personal liberty. It can also be understood that a woman, who has been given such a right, might enjoy her personal liberty and alter her body in any way she can. She might do anything to her body, to suit Laws governing abortion beyond India.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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