Contraceptive Rights and Women’s Autonomy – A Legal-Feminist Perspective

Ananya Krishnan
ILS Law College, Pune, India

Volume III, Issue III, 2020

Traditionally, conceptions of sexuality were seen as a social construct of male power: defined by men, forced on women. This was reflected in the laws that were drafted through the eyes of men, aiming to regulate sexual reproduction of women. Third-wave feminists wanted to prioritize greater autonomy in women’s reproductive rights, which included access to safe and healthy contraception methods amongst others. This paper attempts to enter a socio-legal discourse on whether right to contraception is an essential part of women’s autonomy. The international framework along with various feminist approaches to the issue are explored. The differences between the western struggle for a right to contraception versus the Indian struggle for the access to contraception is noted. The current laws governing right to reproduction in the country, (specifically contraception) is delved into. Finally, the stance of Indian Courts is analyzed in comparison with the feminist approaches. The idea that laws governing childbirth is not purely with regards to the biological function, but an extension of gender dynamics, is the inherent point at issue.

 Keywords–Right to reproduction, Contraceptives, International laws, Feminism, Indian context


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