Uruguay: Gender stereotypes in the abortion law

Congratulations to Lucía Berro Pizzarossa, LL.M., a doctoral candidate in International Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Groningen, The Netherlands, who has published several articles about abortion law.  We are pleased to circulate the abstract of her latest article, and links to some others by the same author.

Lucía Berro Pizzarossa,‘“Women are Not in the Best Position to Make These Decisions by Themselves”: Gender Stereotypes in the Uruguayan Abortion Law’ (2019) University of Oxford Human Rights Hub Journal 25-54.  Article online.

Abstract:     Efforts to protect women’s rights can cast dark shadows. Dangerous and often unnoticed stereotypes can motivate and infiltrate legal reforms. Recent changes to the law on abortion in Uruguay have been held out as a best practice model in South America.  Recognising the power of the law to shape our understandings of how people are and should be, this article aims to unpack the stereotypes on women seeking abortions in the Uruguayan legal discourse and map how the law on abortion gives legal force to these harmful stereotyped ideas.  This article analyses the parliamentary proceedings on the Voluntary Termination of Pregnancy Act. It asks: Do the debates on abortion in Uruguay reveal a cultural shift? Do members of parliament’s arguments hinge on harmful stereotypes?

In asking these questions, this article explores the extent to which a fairly liberal and widely praised domestic abortion law complies with the national and international human rights obligations to eradicate harmful gender stereotypes. Mining the rhetoric used in the parliament debates reveals the stereotyped images of women that seek abortion services that—rather than reflecting the true complexity and diverse experiences of women that seek abortion—are grounded in women’s perceived degree of deviance from gendered stereotypes, particularly those surrounding motherhood. Uruguayan abortion law, while seemingly protecting women’s rights, in fact hinges on traditional gender attitudes and stereotypes. This article provides the foundations to further develop sophisticated legal and political strategies for fulfilling women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Other articles authored by Lucía Berro Pizzarossa:

Here to Stay: The Evolution of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in International Human Rights Law,” by Lucía Berro Pizzarossa, Laws, 7.3 (2018): 1-17. Open Access Article.

Realising the right to sexual and reproductive health: Access to essential medicines for medical abortion as a core obligation.” by Katrina Perehudoff, Lucía Berro Pizzarossa and Jelle Stekelenburg BMC International Health and Human Rights, 18.1 (2018) [8 pages]. Article online.

Legal barriers to access abortion services through a human rights lens: the Uruguayan experience,” by Lucía Berro Pizzarossa, Reproductive Health Matters 26:52(2018): 151-158.  Abstract and article.

“Global Survey of National Constitutions: Mapping Constitutional Commitments to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights,” by Lucía Berro Pizzarossa and Katrina S. Perehudoff,  Health and Human Rights 19.2 (2017): 279-293. Abstract and Article.  Also published in Healthcare as a Human Rights Issue: Normative Profile, Conflicts and Implementation, ed. Sabine Klotz, Heiner Bielefeldt, Martina Schmidhuber, Andreas Frewer (Bielefeld, Germany:  Transcript Verlag, 2017) 321-346  Open Access chapter.

See also:
Gender Stereotyping: Transnational Legal Perspectives, by Rebecca J. Cook and Simone Cusack, (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010),  Book in English.
Spanish edition online: PDF

Compiled by the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, reprohealth*law at utoronto.ca   See Program website for our PublicationsInformation resources, and Reprohealthlaw Commentaries Series.
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