Is an Unmarried Woman Legally Allowed to Have an Abortion in India?
Team SoOLEGAL 27 Jun 2023

Is an Unmarried Woman Legally Allowed to Have an Abortion in India?


Abortion is the medical procedure or process of terminating a pregnancy before the fetus is able to survive outside the womb. It is the deliberate ending of a pregnancy, resulting in the removal or expulsion of the embryo or fetus from the uterus.

Abortion can be performed through various methods, which depend on factors such as the gestational age of the pregnancy and the woman's health.

According to Sections 312 to 316 of the Indian Penal Code 1860, certain situations are outlined where abortion is considered illegal and punishable under the law. These provisions state that causing a miscarriage in a woman is a criminal offense. Furthermore, if a person voluntarily causes a woman to have a miscarriage, they can be punished with imprisonment for up to 3 years and a fine. This penalty applies particularly if the miscarriage is not performed in good faith with the intention of saving the life of the woman.

To put it simply, the Indian Penal Code makes it clear that causing a miscarriage in a woman is a crime, and anyone who deliberately does so without a justifiable reason can face legal consequences such as imprisonment and a fine. 

Is Abortion legal for unmarried woman in India?

Yes, unmarried women in India are legally allowed to have an abortion. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (“Act”) was enacted to provide a legal framework for safe and legal abortions. Under this law, any woman, regardless of her marital status, has the right to seek an abortion if certain conditions are met.

According to the Act, a pregnancy can be terminated if it poses a risk to the physical or mental health of the woman, if there is a substantial risk that the child, if born, would suffer from physical or mental abnormalities, or if the pregnancy is a result of rape or failure of contraceptive methods. The act allows for abortions up to 20 weeks of gestation, although there are some exceptions to this limit in cases where there is a substantial risk to the woman's life or if there are fetal abnormalities. It is important to note that abortions in India must be performed by a registered medical practitioner in a recognized medical facility. Additionally, there may be certain requirements and procedures that need to be followed, such as obtaining consent, ensuring confidentiality, and maintaining medical standards.

Section-3 of the Act provides certain conditions on which pregnancy can be terminated by a woman through registered medical practitioners. The pregnancy according to Section-3 can be terminated if:

1.     The length of the same does not exceed 20 weeks or 24 weeks

2.     The continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury to her physical or mental health

3.     There is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from any serious physical or mental abnormality.

Also, under the Act, there are two explanations wherein it is stated that the pregnancy can be terminated if, “where any pregnancy occurs as a result of failure of any device or method used by any woman or her partner for the purpose of limiting the number of children or preventing pregnancy, the anguish caused by such pregnancy may be presumed to constitute a grave injury to the mental health of the pregnant woman.” Or “where any pregnancy is alleged by the pregnant woman to have been caused by rape, the anguish caused by the pregnancy shall be presumed to constitute a grave injury to the mental health of the pregnant woman

An unmarried woman can also terminate her pregnancy if the above conditions are met as per the Act. However, the Act also states that the termination of pregnancy of a minor girl or mentally challenged girl shall only be performed with the consent of her guardian. 

Can the pregnancy be terminated at any place so desired?

No, the Act under Section-4 specifies the places where the termination of the pregnancy can take place. The places are:

1.     A hospital established or maintained by Government

2.     A place for the time being approved for the purpose of this Act by Government or a District Level Committee constituted by that Government with the Chief Medical Officer or District Health Officer as the Chairperson of the said Committee 

Can a pregnancy be terminated in case the conditions under Section-3 and Section-4 are not met?

Yes, a pregnancy can be terminated even if the conditions under Section-3 are not met. Section-5 of the Act states that if in the opinion of two registered medical practitioners the termination is immediately necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman. 

We have tried to cover as many questions as possible with regard to the above topic. However, if there are still any questions, please contact us on +91 9810929455 or mail us at
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Allen Dave   2 Jul 2023 3:59pm
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