Author – Neha Agarwal (Banasthali Vidyapith, Rajasthan)
Holding her request for her husband to donate his sperms for artificial insemination as a ‘legitimate, eugenic choice of hers’, the court directed the couple to an assisted reproductive technology (ART) expert.
In the present case, a 35-year-old woman caught in a divorce battle sought a second child with her estranged husband. She pleaded before family court for conception through restoration of conjugal relations or in-vitro fertilisation before her biological clock times out.
The husband submit before the family court that this plea is illegal, an illusion and against social norms. He refused to have any more children with her, even through ART. The counsel argued that “No spouse can be compelled to have conjugal relations directly or indirectly, without free consent”
The Maharashtra family Court judge Swati Chauhan in Nanded observed that the issue of reproductive rights is “emotionally debatable and gender intricate” and can generate legal and social complications and consequences. The judge also noted that in instant case “seeking ART procedure is neither in breach of any law nor is it violating any social written or unwritten norms. Moreover, the petitioner is ready to incur the full responsibility of the proposed child”.
The court cited internaouational laws and treaties on personal autonomy and reproductive health to back her “reproductive rights” as being the “basic civil rights of a human being”.
Judge Chauhan, in her order, said within its limited powers, the court can only hold that “she has a right to reproduce and that she is entitled to exercise it and not allowing a fertile woman to procreate is like compelling her to sterilize. To curb or to curtail reproductive right may have a subtle and devastating demographic outcome.’’
The court directed the couple to an assisted reproductive technology (ART) expert and also directed that the couple to head for consultation with a marriage counsellor on June 24 and fix a meeting with an IVF expert within a month.
The court also directed that husband has to give monthly maintenance for their child who lives with her but the court had rejected her maintenance plea since she earns.
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