Abortion laws india

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A REFLECTION OF AMERICAN JURISPRUDENCE ON THE INDIAN MILIEU OF LIBERALISED ABORTION POLICIES

Abortion laws originated in the United Kingdom as early as 1803, but the credit of revolutionizing abortion laws and recognizing the inherent, perhaps inextricable right and liberty of women over their bodies can only be given to the United States—more specifically to the American Judiciary. From as early as Roe v. Wade, the American Judiciary has been reiterating women’s rights as constitutional persons to terminate her pregnancy in the earlier stages and thereafter the State being given a role to play; hence making abortion legal for the first time in the Unites States in 1973. Even though senators and other policy-makers in several, if not all, states of the United States have tried to whittle down the basic premise of Roe v. Wade, it had been emphatically upheld in subsequent cases. After more than thirty years of taking firm root of the pro-abortion movement in the West, anti-abortion groups have again taken a radical stand by trying to control abortions through the introduction of the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Bill of 2005(commonly known as Fetal Pain Legislation) and as many as twenty-three states in the USA have passed it to be an Act, which would require that abortionists disclose to women the reality that killing an unborn baby by abortion causes pain to the child. It would also require that women who were pregnant for more than twenty weeks would be given the choice of adopting anesthesia for their fetuses. Interestingly this move by the legislatures was said to find its basis on the judgments in Gonzales v. Carhart whereby the Supreme Court had held that the federal legislation banning partial-birth abortion was constitutional on its face. The issue of fetal pain arose amidst the partial-birth abortion debate. Supporters of the federal legislation argued that partial-birth abortion was excruciatingly painful for the fetus and that banning this abortion procedure would further the State’s legitimate interest in protecting the unborn child. Opponents of the federal ban argued that there was no conclusive scientific evidence to support the hypothesis that a fetus is even capable of feeling pain. As a result of this partial-birth abortion controversy, legislations aimed at acknowledging and assuaging fetal pain during abortion came into being. In India, the debate on abortion laws as embodied in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 has been swirling since the Bombay High Court’s decision in Dr. Nikhil Dattar & Ors. v. Union of India, whereby the Court going by a strict interpretation of the provisions in the Statute, refused to give a lady pregnant with a malformed fetus to abort since she was already in her twenty-fourth week of pregnancy as mandated by the Statute. Since then there have been urgent calls to amend the Statute as long-standing critiques of the policy were brought to the fore-front again. It has become critical at this juncture to look at the development of abortion law and policies in the West,

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