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Into the darkness

“The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion.”[1]

With these words the United States Supreme Court, through the case of Dobbs, State Health Officer Of The Mississippi Department Of Health, Et Al. V. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned the landmark judgment of Roe vs Wade,[2] which established the constitutional right for abortion in 1973. Along with Roe vs Wade, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey too was overturned. This judgement gives individual states the power to set up their own laws in relation to this issue. This judgement was decided with a 6-3 majority. The three dissenting judges were Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Justice Elena Kagan and Justice tephen G. Breyer.

In tandem with abortion, is the boiling question of choice. For ages, choice has been misinterpreted and most often taken for granted. Reproductive choice, being one of the most controversial of them all. A woman is entitled to her own reproductive choice and taking away that right, is equivalent to taking away another integral right, that of liberty. Over time, there have been several cases wherein women have lost their lives when abortion was denied to them. One of the most talked about case in this scenario is that of Savita Halappanavar, an Indian origin dentist living in Ireland, who was denied an abortion because a ‘heart beat’ was present. In spite of that fact that it was known that a miscarriage was about to take place, Irish law prevented the abortion, which ultimately led to her death. Another example can be seen from Poland, wherein a Polish woman was denied abortion when one of the twin foetuses she was carrying stopped breathing. Further, when the heartbeat of the second twin also stopped, it was at this stage that the pregnancy was terminated. But, it was too late by then. The young woman lost her life, because her choice was not considered.

Abortion laws, in India have become significantly diverse. There have been several cases in which women have been allowed to undergo an abortion even at a later stage in the pregnancy. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act in 1971, is the law governing the women’s rights to safe and accessible abortion services. Through its latest amendments, a woman can terminate her pregnancy within 20 weeks and also to 24 weeks, the latter being in exceptional cases like those of victims of sexual assault and rape. [3] However, in midst of that lies the mind set that abortion is illegal and a moral wrong. As the Dobb’s decision has stated, “Abortion presents a profound moral question.”[4]What people tend to forget is that, abortion, is a right, a decision which is and should be solely taken by the woman herself, for it is her body that is going to carry the baby for a whole nine months.

The Pro-Choice campaign a much publicized movement in the United States, which primarily stands up for the choice of a women has been set back by almost a century. It won’t be wrong to say that “choice”, is ceasing to exist and becoming a thing of the past. The Texas law on banning abortion, once the heartbeat can be found, is first of such laws, where choice, liberty becomes a foreign concept. The Supreme Court of a country, is where one goes when their rights, are threatened. But, what happens when that very place, that beacon of hope, is the one taking away that right? Where do the people go then? Many have termed this judgement to be politically motivated, but whether it is political or not it strikes at the very core of human existence. That, of choice. It’s ironic how, despite there been news of mass shootings every couple of weeks, individuals are allowed to carry guns, like it’s their inherent right, but women are not allowed to have a say about her own body, which surprisingly enough is her inherent right.

As an individual, as a woman this judgement is nothing less than terrifying. It takes away the basic autonomy which every individual is entitled to. For a nation, which prides itself in being the leader of the world and the first step towards any development, this decision is a mile backwards.

“With sorrow- for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection – we dissent”[5]

[1] Dobbs, State Health Officer Of The Mississippi Department Of Health, Et Al. V. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, United States Supreme Court, [2] Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) [3] An Analysis of the Evolving Law of Abortions in Light of Roe v. Wade Judgment, May 18th 2022, SCC Online, [4] Supra. Note 1 [5] Ibid.

Submitted by,

Nayantara Bhattacharya,

Junior Associate at SK Singhi & Co.


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