Essay on Law Relating to Abortion in India !
The protection of law to human life also extends to an unborn child in mother’s womb. Causing miscarriage with or without consent of the woman is an offence under Sections 312 and 313 of IPC respectively. Section 312 requires two elements to be satisfied for the offence of miscarriage, namely, (i) it should not have been caused voluntarily; and (ii) it should not have been caused in good faith for the purpose of saving the life of the woman.
Although the word ‘abortion’ has not been used in the aforesaid sections but the word ‘miscarriage’ technically speaking refers to abortion which means expulsion of the embryo—foetus at any time before it attains full growth.
Miscarriage may be caused at two different stages, that is, when a woman is ‘with child’ or she is ‘quick with child’. A woman is considered ‘with child’ as soon as gestation begins, and she is said to be ‘quick with child’ when she feels the motion of child in her womb. In other words, quickening is a perception by the mother that movement of the foetus has started. Therefore, it obviously indicates an advanced stage of pregnancy.
The punishment of these two offences under Sections 312 and 313 respectively also varies. The former is punishable with imprisonment which may extend to seven years while in the latter case, the punishment may extend upto ten years or imprisonment for life with or without fine.
When an act done with intent to cause miscarriage of woman with her consent and it results into her death, it is an offence punishable under section 314 of IPC upto ten years imprisonment, and if the act was done without the consent of the woman, it is punishable with life imprisonment.
Section 315 further provides that an act done with intent to prevent a child being born alive or to cause it to die after birth is punishable with imprisonment which may extend to 10 years with or without fine. An act of causing death of unborn child at the advanced stage of pregnancy (‘quick with mother’ stage) amounts to culpable homicide and is punishable upto ten years imprisonment with or without fine as provided in Section 316 IPC.