Right to Reproductive Health

It is well established, right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution includes the right to lead a dignified and meaningful life and the right to health is an integral facet of this right. In Subhash Chandra Bose, (1992) 1 SCC 441
 while dealing with the right to health of workers, it was noted, the right to health must be considered an aspect of social justice informed by not only Article 21 of the Constitution, but also the Directive Principles of State Policy and International Covenants to which India is a party. Similarly, the bare minimum obligations of the State to ensure the preservation of the right to life and health were enunciated in Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity, (1996) 4 SCC 37.

Over time, there has been recognition of the need to respect and protect the reproductive rights and reproductive health of a person. Reproductive health has been defined as “the capability to reproduce and the freedom to make informed, free and responsible decisions. It also includes access to a range of reproductive health information, goods, facilities and services to enable individuals to make informed, free and responsible decisions about their reproductive behaviour.” The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in General Comment No. 22 on ‘The Right to Sexual and Reproductive Health’ under Article 12 of The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights observed, “the right to sexual and reproductive health is an integral part of the right of everyone to the highest attainable physical and mental health.” SC recognized reproductive rights as an aspect of personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution in Suchita Srivastava, (2009) 9 SCC 1.”

Hon’ble Justice Madan B. Lokur, Devika Biswas v. Union of India, [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 95 of 2012].