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Reproductive Rights Of Women

Reproductive Rights

Historically, laws and policies regarding reproductive rights have failed to acknowledge the women's approach, rather it focused on other targets like population control which totally undermined the women's reproductive autonomy as spousal consent was a mandatory requirement for her reproductive health services. Even though child marriage is a punishable offence yet India accounts the highest number of child marriages which results in 20 percent of its contribution in global maternal deaths.

Reproductive rights of an individual include the liberties like having reproductive health; an individual's right to plan a family without any coercion, violence or discrimination; terminate a pregnancy; learn about sex education in public schools and gain access to services regarding reproductive health. Pragmatically, the courts have played a crucial role in the expansion, promotion and protection of reproductive rights.

It is unfortunate that the violations of reproductive rights of an individual incommensurately affect women as they have the competency to get pregnant which fails to ensure gender equality and justice of women. The Constitution of India perceives many rights regarding this topic as fundamental rights like right to equality, right against discrimination mentioned in Article 14 and 15 respectively, right to life and liberty mentioned in Article 21 which is further expanded and interpreted through jurisprudence to include freedom from torture or ill treatment, rights to health, and privacy, to provide just and humane conditions for work and also to provide maternity relief which is mentioned under Article 42 that the government has an obligation to fulfil.

As the right to health or reproductive rights are not mentioned as fundamental rights under the constitution of India, there are several decisions given by the Supreme Court which interprets the provisions that are already mentioned. The judgement given by justice Puttaswamy [1]interpreted Article 21 and acknowledged the constitutional rights of women to make reproductive choices.

A three-judge bench in the Suchita Srivastava v Chandigarh Administration[2] stated that the entitlement to carry pregnancy to its full term, to give birth, and further raising the child are included under the reproduction rights of women as they form a part to their right to dignity, privacy and bodily integrity like freely choosing birth control methods like going through sterilisation procedures which should be respected.

End-Notes:
  1. On 24th august, 2017 a 9 judge bench: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/91938676/
  2. On 28th august 2019 a 3 judge bench : https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1500783/

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