In a significant decision, the Punjab and Haryana High Court last week ruled that the right to abort a pregnancy in a marriage rests with the wife and not husband.
“A woman is not a machine in which raw material is put and a finished product comes out. She should be mentally prepared to conceive, continue the same and give birth to a child. The unwanted pregnancy would naturally affect the mental health of the pregnant woman…” said the court.
Stressing that marital intimacy between a couple does not automatically translate to the woman’s consent to child bearing, Justice Jitendra Chauhan said, “Mere consent to conjugal rights does not mean consent to give birth to a child for her husband.” Welcoming the judgement, Jagmati Sanwan, All India Democratic Women’s Association national vice-president said, “If the family conditions are unsuitable, no woman would like to give birth to a child because after all, she is the one who takes care of the children for all practical purposes. We see around us that fathers often desert their families after a couple of deliveries. But children become a part and parcel of the mother’s physical and emotional world. She invests much into their well being and she alone suffers. Hence, the rights of whether to give birth or not, should be with her.”