High Courts in India are currently witnessing a substantial increase in abortion cases, finds Pratigya Campaign’s new legal report.

‘Assessing the Judiciary’s Role in Access to Safe Abortion- II’ report has analysed cases seeking permission of termination of pregnancy from the High Courts in India from May 2019 to August 2020.

There were a total of 243 cases filed across 14 high courts and one appeal before the Supreme Court.

In 84 per cent of the cases, permissions were given to terminate the pregnancy.

74 per cent of the total cases, were filed post the 20-week gestation period, 23 per cent of the total cases were filed within the 20-week gestation period and should not have gone to the courts at all.

Out of 74 per cent cases (filed after 20 weeks cut off), 29 per cent cases were related to rape/sexual abuse, 42 per cent related to foetal anomalies; and out of 23 per cent cases (filed even before 20 weeks), 18 per cent cases were related to sexual abuse/rape and 6% of foetal anomaly.

Commenting on the legal aspect in India and the study findings, Anubha Rastogi, Pratigya Campaign Advisory Group Member and author of the report said, “The increasing number of cases only indicate to the fact that access to safe and legal abortion services in this country still leaves a lot to be desired.”

“It is imperative that any change in law takes note of these increasing trends and moves towards a rights-based, inclusive and accessible legislation on abortion,” Rastogi added.

“Any new law/amendment cannot be based on third party authorisation like the medical boards and has to be respectful of a decision that involves the registered service provider and the pregnant person,” Rastogi further said.

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