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In accidental pregnancies, the woman’s choice to be a mother or not has to be respected as it has emotional and physical consequences, says Bombay High court on the abortion rights in India.
“To marry or not to marry, to have sex before marriage, to have sex outside of marriage, to not have sex, my choice…” said Deepika Padukone in the short film, My Choice as part of Vogue’s empower women campaign.
A choice, it certainly is and women are becoming more open to having sexual relationships independent of marriage. But are the emotional and physical consequences of having sex outside of a marital relationship always a woman’s choice?
What is it like for a woman to get pregnant accidentally in a relationship she knows is heading nowhere? She may not be interested in having the child or continuing the relationship with the partner. Such a situation can be very distressing for a woman, physically and emotionally.
Some people like to say,”This is why a single woman should be more careful, and even abstain from such sexual activity, because she alone has to bear the consequences.”
This is a very regressive and discriminatory thought. But, thankfully, times are changing even in India and our judiciary is accepting that women alone reserve the rights to their bodies, and the right extends to single women and women in live-in relationships alike.
The Bombay High Court in a recent, landmark judgment held that “A woman irrespective of her marital status can be pregnant either by choice or it can be an unwanted pregnancy. Wanted pregnancy is shared equally, however, when it is an accident, then the man may not be there to share the burden. Under such circumstances, a question arises why should only a woman suffer“.
“A woman’s decision to terminate a pregnancy is not a frivolous one. Abortion is often the only way out of a very difficult situation for a woman. If a woman does not want to continue with the pregnancy then forcing her to do so represents a violation of the woman’s bodily integrity and aggravates her mental trauma which would be deleterious to her mental health. Just like the right of a woman to be a mother she also has a right not be a mother and her wish has to be respected.”
I felt that the thoughts expressed in this judgment are very progressive. It is a proud moment in the history of Indian judiciary to witness a ruling in favour of women’s choices, as a reflection of the changes in societal patterns.
While some women may be more willing to be sexually active, other may decide to wait until marriage, a choice that should be respected. Sometimes women are shamed and ridiculed to be virgins, which is as judgmental as being shamed for being sexually experienced. However, getting married only to fulfill the need of exploring one’s sexuality could be one of the most disastrous reasons to get married.
Sexual choices are only an aspect of a woman’s personality and do not define her. While making such choices, women should consider their emotional and physical well-being first, rather than being influenced by society’s norms and pressures.
Image Source: Pixabay