Upholding Pregnant Women’s Right to Life

Congratulations to Professors Rebecca Cook and Bernard Dickens, Co-Directors of our International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, who have recently published the following article on Ethical and Legal Issues in Reproductive Health for gynecologists and obstetricians.


by Rebecca J. Cook and Bernard M.  Dickens

International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 117 (2012): 90-94


Recent decisions of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and the High Court of Delhi have shown how the pregnancy-related deaths of individual women have been bases on which these authoritative tribunals have held Brazil, Paraguay, and India respectively accountable for avoidable maternal mortality not only in these cases, but also among their populations more generally. The right to life is the most fundamental of women’s human rights, recognized in international human rights treaties and national laws. Failure of governments to apply their resources adequately to address, respect, and protect this right violates the law of human rights. These cases show, however, that governments may fail to allocate adequate resources to women’s survival of pregnancy. Tribunals can build on the failures in individual cases to set standards of performance to which governments will legally be held to achieve safe motherhood.

The complete text of this article is now online here.

Other columns on Ethical and Legal Issues in Reproductive Health
are online here.

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