Abortion rights vs Ethics

  • IASbaba
  • October 10, 2022
  • 0
Ethics, Governance
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Context: Recently, in a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court of India allowed abortions up to 24 weeks for all women, including unmarried women.

Abortion Rights and the Ethical Dilemma:

Issues with Respect to Women’s Right:

Woman’s Right over her Body:

  • A woman’s right over her body has been advocated as a premise for freedom.
  • One cannot force a woman to bear a child in her womb and give birth to a child if she does not want to do so for various reasons.

Women’s Health:

  • Unwanted pregnancies affect both physical and mental health.

Gender Equality:

  • The right to abortion is vital for gender equality.
  • The right to abortion should be part of a portfolio of pregnancy rights that enables women to make a truly free choice whether to end a pregnancy.

Issues with respect to Foetus:

  • Right to Life (Article 21): Abortion amounts to the murder of a living being.
  • Motherly Care: It is a unique unspoken bond shared between two lives, which cannot be questioned or regulated by laws.

Issues with respect to Society in General:

  • Responsibility of State: The State has the responsibility of valuing each life.
  • Inclusion of all: Abortion should not become a mechanism of social control for avoiding the appearance of differences or disabilities.
  • Giving better life for Existing Children: Many times, parents want abortion to be able to give a good life to existing children instead of dividing their meagre resources into more children.

What are the Arguments against Abortion?

  • Abortion is not viewed by some as liberating, but rather as a way for society not to cater to women’s needs.
  • Women don’t need free abortion access, but their needs for financial and social survival as mothers are what they need for equality:
  • inexpensive, readily available childcare
  • a workplace or school that acknowledges the needs of mothers,
    • g., providing flexible scheduling and maternity leave,
  • state support that helps to reintegrate a woman into the workforce

India’s Stance on Abortions:

  • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021 ensures that expectant mothers exercise self-determination in welcoming new life to their homes.
  • Abortions may be performed up to 24 gestational weeks on grounds of risk to the mother’s life, mental anguish, rape, incest, contraception failure or the diagnosis of foetal abnormalities.
  • It is a liberal achievement over countries where abortions are disallowed since conception, even in the most traumatising of circumstances of sexual abuse or incest.

Way Forward:

  • Ethical approaches to abortion frequently invoke four principles.
    • Respect for patients’ autonomy
    • Nonmaleficence (do no harm)
    • Beneficence (beneficial care) and
    • Justice
  • The abortion dilemma has overlapping issues from different realms like legal, medical, ethical, philosophical, religious and human rights and it should be analysed from different perspectives.
  • There cannot be any hard and fast rule over abortion and it must be discussed and deliberated to evolve a common consensus.

Source:  Indian Express

Previous Year Question

Q.1) Which Article of the Constitution of India safeguards one’s right to marry the person of one’s choice?  (2019)

  1. Article 19
  2. Article 21
  3. Article 25
  4. Article 29


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