Divorce because of Abortion

Today, Satya brought an article to my attention that says that under Indian Hindu Marriage laws, a husband can divorce his wife if she has an abortion without his consent.  To me, the law makes sense because if one person really wants to have a family and the other doesn’t then they are probably best off with a partner that shares their goals.  I would think it would be extremely difficult to stay in a marriage like that because what is the compromise–just have one child?  Adopt a 10 year old because the child is half grown already?  Not likely.

In the U.S. I don’t think an issue like this would come up.  Most American couples can divorce if they simply have grown apart and aren’t in love anymore.  The only way this would come up I’d think is if to get a divorce one party would have to prove the divorce is the other’s fault. 

There are sticky implications to the law.  It does limit the freedom of a married woman to make independent decisions about her body.  I don’t think there is any denying that.  What choice will poorer women have?  If there is a divorce, would they be able to support themselves or would they be doomed to a life in poverty?  Would women be doomed to having pregnancy after pregnancy?  Perhaps not because India’s government emphasizes small families and birth control.  Another thing to consider is India’s high maternal death rate.  An Indian woman has a 1 in 70 chance of dying in childbirth according to Unicef.  For comparison, an American woman has a 1 in 4800 chance of dying in childbirth. 

What do you think of the law?


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Gori Girl
    Jan 11, 2009 @ 21:05:57

    I don’t know much about the Indian legal system, but I believe that under the Hindu Marriage Law you can divorce for “cruelty”. I’d be surprised if you couldn’t successively argue that a woman having an abortion without her husband’s knowledge and/or consent isn’t some form of cruelty – so it seems like that would cover this case.

    Thanks for adding that. I don’t know much either about the Indian legal system.


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