Wife can terminate pregnancy without husband's approval or permission, says Kerala HC
The Kerala High Court, on Monday, September 26, observed that a married woman does not require her husband's approval or permission to terminate her pregnancy. The HC observed this while hearing a petition by a 21-year-old woman.
The court said the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act does not contain any provision requiring the woman to obtain her husband's permission for terminating the pregnancy. The reason cited is that it is the woman who bears the stress and strain of the pregnancy and the delivery.
The order was issued on a petition filed by a 21-year-old girl from Kottayam who sought permission to medically terminate her pregnancy. In this case, the pregnant woman is not legally divorced or widowed.
The 21-year-old woman had eloped with a man and married him a few months later. But he and his mother began to mistreat her after the marriage. However, when she became pregnant, her husband began to suspect her fidelity and declined to provide any sort of support, either financial or emotional.
The cruel behaviour of her husband and mother-in-law worsened day by day, leaving the petitioner with no alternative but to return to her paternal house.
She then decided to terminate the pregnancy and approached a clinic, but the clinic declined her request since there was no legal document proving that she was separated from her husband.
When the case was heard by the Kerala HC, Justice VG Arun noted the woman's changed equation with her husband is evident by the fact that she had filed a criminal complaint against him and that the husband did not show any inclination to want to continue with her.
The court observed that it amounted to a drastic change in her matrimonial life and ordered that the petitioner be permitted to get her pregnancy terminated at the Medical College, Kottayam or any other government hospital.