A law that limited access for unmarried women to the 20th week of their pregnancies has been corrected by India's highest court.

All women in India have a right to an abortion until the 24th week or the end of the second trimester.

It is important that the decision is made because it challenges the strong cultural stigma against unmarried women in India.

At a time when conservative political forces are curtailing access to reproductive health in the US and globally, the court sent an important pro-choice signal.

The distinction between married and unmarried women is unconstitutional

Indian women have been able to have an abortion until the 20th week of their pregnancies. The act was amended to give access to 24 weeks in certain cases. The extension left only unmarried women with a limit of 20 weeks, regardless of whether they were married or not.

The expansion would perpetuate the stereotype that only married women engage in sex. The decision in court was read by justice Chandrachud. The distinction between married and unmarried women can't be maintained.

There is a strong statement on the right to abortion in the decision. The decision to end the baby's life is based on the woman's right to bodily freedom. The court said that forcing a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to the full term would be an insult to her dignity.

The court acknowledged that rape can be caused by forced sex during wedlock, as well as the existence of marital rape. This doesn't change the terms under which a woman can get an abortion, but it is symbolic.

Additional protections for adolescents

The court decided that doctors don't have to reveal the identity of their younger patients to the police if they want to perform abortions for minor girls. The court said that the requirement assumed that rape was the cause of a minor's pregnancies. A lack of sexual education is one of the reasons for teenage pregnancies.

Most adolescents don't know how contraceptive devices and methods can be used to prevent pregnancies because of the lack of sexual health education in the country. Young adults can't access contraceptives because of the taboo surrounding pre-marital sex.