Should spousal consent be required before a married woman has an abortion?

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Before answering the question with a firm ‘yes’, the topic needs to be analyzed rather critically. No doubt each person in the eyes of law is a separate legal entity, having and enjoying his or her own individual rights what we call as fundamental human rights. Similarly as a man grows, apart from his basic needs like food, dress and shelter, he needs to fulfill his sexual urge also, which leads him to beget offspring through his spouse. Therefore, when a man comes of age he gets married through a legalized institution and form of marriage and gets a spouse as his companion.

After the marriage a man becomes a complete man by virtue of having his spouse as a better half. Only after the marriage, a man becomes a social animal in the real sense of the word and his roles and responsibilities are getting increased manifold, as he has to shoulder the economic burden of the family in the capacity of the father, whereas his spouse also gets definite roles in the home as the mother. Though the role of the father and mother may seem to be more definite and clear-cut and even compartmentalized, in practice, it is not so.

In addition to his economic duties as the head of the family, at the initial stage of his marital life, a man also has to play the role of a husband to his spouse, father to his children, son-in-law to his in-laws and his spouse has to play the role of wife to his husband, mother of his children and daughter-in-law of her in-laws in the marital home. Though the roles of husband and wife may seem varied and compartmentalized, in practice they actually overlap, as the father and mother of the children, upon whom they have equal rights.

Hence after the marriage, both husband and wife necessarily have to make a plan according to their needs and economic status, whether to have a small family or a big family, how many children they should have, when to have those children or when to postpone carrying a child etc, taking the economic condition of the house into account. Though the spouses may have carefully planned, sometimes something may go awry causing a dislocation in their family planning. A spouse may have to bear a child against their schedule of planning, against her wishes, which may not augur well for her health. However, her husband may have different ideas about the unborn child against the wishes of his wife.

Therefore, the wife, as a responsible spouse of her husband, discuss with her husband about her pregnancy, the condition of her health in carrying a child, the economic prospects of the family in the event of delivering a new child in the family etc. Thus after analyzing the pros and cons of the family in having a new child as against their scheduled plan, if the pros outweigh the cons, it is better for the spouse to carry the child and deliver it when it is due. On the other hand, if the cons outweigh the pros, both the husband and wife should decide in favor of abortion of the fetus, provided the health condition of the spouse permits it.

Thus after the marriage since the roles of both the spouses overlap on each other and interdependent, invariably a married women should consult her husband and get his consent, before resorting to any abortion of her fetus. Even in the case of a woman who is not economically dependant on her husband but living with her husband, it is still incumbent upon the woman to get the consent of her husband to have an abortion of a fetus, because it was the result of their sexual union and once it is grown and the child is delivered, it becomes their child on which both the father and mother have equal rights.

Therefore, a married spouse should invariably be required to get the consent of her husband, before resorting to an abortion of the fetus.


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