Stigmatized Meanings of Criminal Abortion Law

Rebecca J. Cook, “Stigmatized Meanings of Criminal Abortion Law ” chapter 16 in Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies, ed. Rebecca J. Cook, Joanna N. Erdman, and Bernard M. Dickens (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014) pp. 347-369, 450n-456n.  Ahora disponible en español.

In this final chapter of  Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective, Rebecca Cook examines how criminal abortion laws create stigma, and explores how legal reasoning can more fully acknowledge their stigmatizing harms.  The chapter begins by sketching the prevailing normative justifications for criminalizing abortion, and explores how these justifications create negative social meanings about women, which in turn reinforce the need for criminalization. She applies social psychology scholarship to better articulate the stigmatizing harms of criminalization of abortion. She then examines how formal criminal abortion laws, informal laws, and background rules are used to spoil the identity of abortion-seeking women.

Specifically, she analyzes how the European Court of Human Rights in R.R. v. Poland might have more effectively acknowledged the stigmatizing harms resulting from the application of Poland’s criminal abortion law in finding violations of R.R.’s rights to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment and to private life, and how it could have found a violation of R.R.’s entitlement to secure these rights without discrimination on grounds of sex. She concludes by explaining that the stigmatizing harms that degrade pregnant women with unintended pregnancies outweigh the reasons for regulating abortion though criminal law.

Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies was first published in August 2014 by the University of Pennsylvania Press’s Studies in Human Rights Series.   Table of Contents and other information online. Ahora disponible en español.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: