According to a US media source, the US Supreme Court has decided to overturn Roe v. Wade, the court’s historic 1973 decision that made abortion a constitutional right
- It protected a pregnant women’s liberty to have an abortion without excessive government control.
- It struck down laws that made abortion illegal in many states, and allowed abortion upto the trimester.
Implications of overturning Roe v Wade:
- it signals a dangerous trend of courts making long-standing determinations of legal rights based on transient political considerations.
- It would also mean legitimisation of state incursions into women’s right to abort and consequently their right to bodily autonomy and liberty
- While the impact of Roe’s absence would most profoundly be felt in the US, it is likely to embolden conservative anti-abortion voices across the world.
- It will inevitably also raise fundamental questions on the limits of judicial activism aimed at protecting the rights of persons and classes
Influence on India:
- In KS Puttaswamy v Union of India, Justice Chandrachud referred to Roe and Planned Parenthood while reading the right to privacy into the existing framework of constitutionally protected fundamental rights subject to “just, reasonable and fair” restrictions.
- In the Indian context, the overturning could be seen as a setback to the celebrated doctrine of transformative constitutionalism, which sees the Indian Constitution as a “living document” that moulds, adapts and responds to changing times and circumstances.
- In 2021, the abortion laws in India underwent substantial changes, the introduction of the Medical Termination for Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, increased the upper gestational limits within which pregnancies are legally terminable.
- The Act, however, carries ambiguities and leaves room for both judicial and executive interpretation.
- As cases of subjective determination arise, the Indian judiciary will be called upon to reconcile the right to privacy recognised in Puttaswamy with the permissible limits of abortion in the Act.
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