REPROHEALTHLAW Updates – February 2019

February 19, 2019

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DEVELOPMENTS:

[abortion] Ireland – The Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act was signed into law, effective January 1, 2019.  Medical Council also deleted four of the five paragraphs dealing with abortion from its guide on professional conduct and ethics because they conflicted with the Act.  Newspaper article.

[abortion -Northern Ireland] UK Supreme Court had ruled in June ([2018] UKSC 27 (7 June 2018)  On appeal from: [2017] NICA 42that violation of European Convention on Human Rights could not be decided without at least one complainant.  On January 30, 2019,  Sara Ewart, who had once travelled for abortion of a fatally impaired fetus, launched a case that could find Northern Ireland’s abortion law in breach of the UK’s human rights commitments. She is supported by Amnesty International.  News articleAmnesty International press release.

[conscience – institutional] Chile, Constitutional Court upheld an unconstitutionality claim against the government’s new Regulations about the scope of “institutional” conscientious objection for private facilities and clinics.  STC Rol N° 5572-18-CDS / 5650-18-CDS (acumuladas). January 18, 2019.   Spanish decision  English news report.

[conscience]   Norway: Supreme Court upholds rights of doctor who refused to insert IUD.  Newspaper article.

[gender stereotyping, I.V. v. Bolivia, sterilization]  “The human rights impact of gender stereotyping in the context of reproductive health care,” by Ciara O’Connell and Christina Zampas,  International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 144 (2019):  116–121.  PDF online here.

[stigma] US:  Vending Machines Offer Emergency Contraception Without the Stigma introduced in 2012, now at several campuses, including Stanford University.   News report.

SCHOLARSHIP:

[abortion access]  Crossing Troubled Waters: Abortion in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Prince Edward Island, ed. Colleen MacQuarrie, Fiona Bloomer, Claire Pierson and Shannon Stettner (Charlottetown, PEI, Canada: Island Studies Press, 2018). 288 pages.      Table of ContentsPublisher’s web page.

[abortion law]   “Criminal law and the risk of harm: a commentary on the impact of criminal laws on sexual and reproductive health, sexual conduct and key populations,” by Veronica Birga, Luisa Cabal, Lucinda O’Hanlon & Christina Zampas.   Reproductive Health Matters, 26.52 (2018): 33-37 Article online.

[abortion law, Argentina] Federalism, two-level games and the politics of abortion rights implementation in sub-national Argentina, by Alba Ruibal, in Reproductive Health Matters 26:54 (Nov. 2018): 137-144.   Article in English with abstracts in English. French & Spanish.

[abortion law, Argentina] “Legal obstacles and social change: strategies of the abortion rights movement in Argentina,” by Alba Ruibal and Cora Fernandez Anderson, in Politics, Groups and Identity,  preview November 2018, 17 pages.  Institutional access.   Abstract from Safe Abortion.

[abortion law, Argentina]”Federalism and subnational legal mobilization: feminist litigation strategies in Salta, Argentina,” by Alba Ruibal,  Law & Society Review,  32-page preview 29 October 2018. Institutional access.    Abstract from Safe Abortion.

[abortion law – Brazil]  Constitutionalizing Abortion in Brazil, by Marta Machado and Rebecca J. Cook, Revista de Investigações Constitucionais / Journal of Constitutional Research, vol. 5, n. 3 (set./dez. 2018) pp.185-231.  Abstract and Article PDF.   Also at SSRN.

[abortion law – Brazil and Mexico]  “Constitutionalism and rights protection in Mexico and Brazil: comparative remarks, by Francisca Pou Giménez, in Revista de Investigações Constitucionais / Journal of Constitutional Research, vol. 5, n. 3 (set./dez. 2018) pp 233-255  Abstract and article PDF.

[abortion law, Dominican Republic]  “It’s Your Decision.  It’s Your Life:  Total criminalization of abortion in the Dominican Republic.”  interviews, plus legal overview and recommendations.  (Human Rights Watch, Nov 19, 2018).   84 pages. English PDF    Spanish PDF.   Online in English.    Overview with 5-minute video.

[abortion law -Ireland]  “Abortion, the Irish Constitution, and constitutional change” by David Kenny, Revista de Investigações Constitucionais / Journal of Constitutional Research, vol. 5, n. 3 (set./dez. 2018) pp. 257-275.   Abstract and Article PDF.

[abortion law, Mexico] “Maternidad o Castigo:  La criminalización del aborto en Mexico,”  (Mexico, GIRE, 2018)  [Report in Spanish:] Informe de 72 paginas.  For executive summary in English, see: Motherhood or Punishment: The criminalization of abortion in Mexico:  English summary.

[abortion law] “Northern Ireland and Abortion Law Reform,” by Kathryn McNeilly, Fiona Bloomer and Claire Pierson,  Queen’s University, Ulster University and University of Liverpool, Sept. 2018, open access, 8 pages.  Briefing Paper.

[adolescents]  “(De)Criminalizing Adolescent Sex: A rights-based assessment of age of consent laws in Eastern and Southern Africa,” by Godfrey Dalitso Kangaude and Ann Skelton, SAGE Open (Oct-Dec 2018): 1 –12.   Article online.   Abstract.

[conscience]  “Objection ladies! Taking IPPF-EN v. Italy one step further, by Emmanuelle Bribosia, Ivana Isailovic and Isabelle  Rorive, in:  Integrated Human Rights in Practice:Rewriting Human Rights Decisions, ed. Eva Brems and Ellen Desmet (Cheltenham, UK:  Elgar, 2018).  Abstract and previous version.

[conscience]  “Religious Refusals and Reproductive Rights,” by Louise Melling, chapter 14 in:  The Conscience Wars: Rethinking the Balance between Religion, Identity, and Equality, ed. Susanna Mancini and Michel Rosenfeld (Cambridge, UK:  Cambridge University Press, 2018)  pp. 375-391.   Institutional Access.

[conscience]  “Seeking to square the circle:  Conscientious objection in Reproductive Healthcare” by Emmanuelle Bribosia and Isabelle  Rorive, chapter 15 in:  The Conscience Wars: Rethinking the Balance between Religion, Identity, and Equality, ed. Susanna Mancini and Michel Rosenfeld (Cambridge, UK:  Cambridge University Press, 2018)  pp. 392-413.  Institutional Access.    Abstract and previous version

[maternal health] Impact of reproductive evolutionary mismatch on women’s health and the need for action and research, by Mahmoud F. Fathalla, International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 144 (Feb. 2019): 129–134.  Institutional Access.  

[New book] Beyond Virtue and Vice:  Rethinking Human Rights and Criminal Law
ed.  Alice M. Miller and Mindy Jane Roseman,  Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019)  360 pages. Book information.
Intro and chapters 1 and 3 online.
Chapters about abortion law include:
ο    “Abortion as Treason: Sexuality and nationalism in France” by Mindy Jane Roseman
ο    “Criminal Law, Activism and Sexual and Reproductive Justice: What we can learn from the sex selection campaign in India,” by Geetanjali Misra and Vrinda Marwah
ο    “Harm Production: An argument for decriminalization,”  by Joanna N. Erdman

JOBS

Links to employers in the field of Reproductive and Sexual Health Law are online here.

Senior Vice President, Global Legal Program, Center for Reproductive Rights, New York, USA.    Job details and application form.

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Compiled by the Coordinator of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, reprohealth*law at utoronto.ca For Program publications and resources, see our website, online here. TO JOIN THIS BLOG: enter your email address in upper right corner of this webpage, then check your email to confirm the subscription.

 

 

 

 


Human rights impact of gender stereotyping in reproductive health care

February 19, 2019

Congratulations and thanks to Ciara O’Connell of the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Human Rights, and Christina Zampas,  a Fellow in the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, whose co-authored article was recently published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics:

“The human rights impact of gender stereotyping in the context of reproductive health care,” by Ciara O’Connell and Christina Zampas,  International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 144 (2019):  116–121.  PDF online here.

Abstract:
Gender stereotypes surrounding women’s reproductive health impede women’s access to essential reproductive healthcare and contribute to inequality more generally. Stereotyping in healthcare settings impedes women’s access to contraceptive information, services, and induced abortion, and lead to involuntary interventions in the context of sterilization. Decisions by human rights monitoring bodies, such as the Inter‐American Court of Human Rights’ case, IV v. Bolivia, which was a case concerned with the involuntary sterilization of a woman during childbirth, highlight how stereotypes in the context of providing health care can operate to strip women of their agency and decision‐making authority, deny them their right to informed consent, reinforce gender hierarchies and violate their reproductive rights. In the present article, IV v. Bolivia is examined as a case study with the objective being to highlight how, in the context of coercive sterilization, human rights law has been used to advance legal and ethical guidelines, including the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics’ (FIGO) own guidelines, on gender stereotyping and reproductive healthcare. The Inter‐American Court’s judgment in IV v. Bolivia illustrates the important role FIGO’s guidance can play in shaping human rights standards and provides guidance on the service provider’s role and responsibility in eliminating gender stereotypes and upholding and fulfilling human rights.

KEYWORDS
Ethical standards; FIGO guidelines; Forced sterilization; Human rights; Human rights law;  Informed consent; Inter-American Court of Human Rights; Stereotypes.
The published article is online here.
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Compiled by the Coordinator of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, reprohealth*law at utoronto.ca For Program publications and resources, see our website, online here. TO JOIN THIS BLOG: enter your email address in upper right corner of this webpage, then check your email to confirm the subscription.

 


REPROHEALTHLAW Updates – Jan. 2018

January 31, 2018

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LEGAL DEVELOPMENTS
Africa:  Madagascar – New Family Planning Act enacted Jan. 18, 2018 sweeps away the old colonial-era policy that prohibited any promotion of contraception, and recognizes reproductive health and family planning as basic human rights says Family Planning 2020.   However, planned inclusion of therapeutic abortion “sabotaged” at Senate level.   Summary by Safe Abortion.   News report in French.

 

SCHOLARSHIP:

Abortion by telemedicine in Northern Ireland: patient and professional rights across borders, by Tamara Hervey and Sally Sheldon. Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly (2017) 68.1: 1-33    Article online

[abortion law, conscientious objection, Chile]   “A critical review of conscientious objection and decriminalisation of abortion in Chile,” by Adela Montero and Raúl Villarroel,  Journal of Medical Ethics, preview online Jan. 6, 2018 

[abortion law in Sweden, Norway and Finland]  Dropping the ball or holding the line? Challenges to abortion laws in the Nordic countries, Heli Askola (Faculty of Law, Monash University)  Women’s Studies International Forum 66 (Jan-Feb 2018): 25-32.
Institutional access

[abortion Law, Uruguay]  Legal barriers to access abortion services through a human rights lens: the Uruguayan experience,” by Lucía Berro Pizzarossa, Reproductive Health Matters 26.52 (2018): preview online Jan. 17, 2018

Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies, ed. Rebecca J. Cook, Joanna N. Erdman and Bernard M. Dickens (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), now also in Spanish (see next entry) and in paperback, 20% discount code PH70.  English editionTable of Contents with chapter summaries. 
Abortion Decisions Online
El aborto en el derecho transnacional: casos y controversias,  ed. Rebecca J. Cook, Joanna N. Erdman y Bernard M. Dickens (Mexico: FCE/CIDE, 2016)   En espanol, 2016: Fondo de Cultura Económica Libreria CIDE.   Índice con resúmenes de capítulos 1-16
Decisiones Judiciales sobre aborto en línea

[Africa] Legal Grounds III: Reproductive and Sexual Rights in Sub-Saharan African Courts  (Pretoria, Pretoria University Law Press (PULP), 2017).  PDF 228 page bookPrevious volumes PDF online at CRR.      Printed edition from PULP.
Online edition with links to decisions and updates.

FIGO Bioethics Curriculum:  Introduction to Principles and Practice of Bioethics: Case Studies in Women’s Health.  Table of Contents and List of Case Studies    Curriculum in EnglishCurriculum in Spanish    Ahora en Español!

“Freedom of conscience in Europe?  An analysis of three cases of midwives with conscientious objection to abortion,” by Valerie Fleming, Beate Ramsayer, Teja Škodič Zakšek, Journal of Medical Ethics (2018) 44: 104-108  Article online.

Portuguese edition online: Reproductive Health and Human Rights:  Integrating Medicine, Ethics and Law, (Oxford University Press, 2003)  English  (Oxford Scholarship Online)  en Francais    en Portugues, 602 pages\Spanish / Español    Case Studies in Arabic

US-focused news, resources, and legal developments are available on Repro Rights Prof Blog.   View or subscribe.


NEWS:

New “Framework Convention on Global Health Alliance aims to facilitate a coordinated global treaty for the Right to “the highest attainable level of health.”  For an overview, see: “Turning the Right to Health into the Lived Reality for Everyone” by Dr. Martin Hevia (Founding Chair):  Overview online.

Canada:  Court dismisses anti-abortion group’s injunction request about refusal of Canada Summer Jobs funding.  News report.

Germany:  Doctor fined 6000 euros for illegally “advertising” abortions, having listed “abortion” among other medical specialties on her website.   It is illegal to advertise abortion services in a way that is to one’s own economic advantage.  News articleSection 219a of the German criminal code, in German.     See new comment by Stephanie Schlitt, “Criminal prohibition of abortion “advertising” restricts information provision,” Brief comment.     Detailed comment.

Ireland:  Government announces referendum on the 8th Amendment of the Constitution which limits abortion access, following recommendations of the Joint Committee of the Irish Parliament (the Oireachtas).  Jan. 30, 2018 newsComment by Christina Zampas.
Comment by Mercedes Cavallo.

JOBS

Links to employers in the field of Reproductive and Sexual Health Law are online here

______________
Compiled by the Coordinator of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, reprohealth*law at utoronto.ca For Program publications and resources, see our website, online here. TO JOIN THIS BLOG: enter your email address in upper right corner of this webpage, then check your email to confirm the subscription.


REPROHEALTHLAW Updates – Dec. 2017

December 20, 2017

SUBSCRIBE TO REPROHEALTHLAW: To receive these updates monthly by email, enter your address in upper right corner of this webpage, then check your email to confirm the subscription.

DEVELOPMENTS

Bolivia:   decriminalized abortion within 8 weeks of pregnancy for “students, adolescents, or girls” presumably under 18 years old.  National Assembly vote was December 6, 2017.  President will sign.  Press release from Ipas Bolivia.

Ireland:  After months of hearings, special parliamentary committee voted to recommend repealing the controversial “eighth amendment” to the Irish constitution which protects “the right to life of the unborn.”  Referendum promised in early summer 2018.  BBC Report.
See also: Christina Zampas, presentation on Ireland’s international human rights obligations: Video (see 2:27-2:45)  Transcript Oct 4, 2017.  Comment by Christina Zampas.

CALL FOR PAPERS

on Reproductive Health in Latin America (Ethical and Legal Issues welcome), for publication in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetics (IJGO): Re: the XXII FIGO World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics in Rio de Janeiro in October 2018.  Submit by February 28, 2018 for peer review. IJGO guidelines and call for papers on Latin America

Audre Rapoport Prize for Scholarship on Gender and Human Rights is awarded annually to the winner of an interdisciplinary writing competition on international human rights and gender.   $1000 prize honors the work of Audre Rapoport (1923-2016), who advocated for women in the United States and internationally, particularly on issues of reproductive health.  University students eligible.  Submit by July 1, 2018.
Details and papers by past winners online

SCHOLARSHIP:

[Europe]  Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Europe (France: Council of Europe, Dec 2017), prepared by Leah Hoctor, Adriana Lamačková and Katrine Thomasen, with assistance from Jessica
Boulet, from the Europe Program at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Overview, Summary and 78-page Issue Paper.

[Slovakia – Discrimination against Roma women in reproductive healthcare]:
Vakeras Zorales – Speaking Out: Roma Women’s Experiences in Reproductive Health Care in Slovakia, by the Center for Reproductive Rights and the [Slovak] Center for Civil and Human Rights (Poradna)  Report online.  Overview.   44-page Report

Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies, ed. Rebecca J. Cook, Joanna N. Erdman and Bernard M. Dickens (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), now also in Spanish (see next entry) and in paperback, 20% discount code PH70.  English edition from U Penn PressTable of Contents with chapter summaries. 
Abortion Decisions Online

El aborto en el derecho transnacional: casos y controversias,  ed. Rebecca J. Cook, Joanna N. Erdman y Bernard M. Dickens (Mexico: FCE/CIDE, 2016)   En espanol, 2016: Fondo de Cultura Económica Libreria CIDE.     Índice con resúmenes de capítulos 1-16
Decisiones Judiciales sobre aborto en línea

[Africa] Legal Grounds III: Reproductive and Sexual Rights in Sub-Saharan African Courts  (Pretoria, Pretoria University Law Press (PULP), 2017).  PDF 228 page bookPrevious volumes PDF online at CRR.      Printed edition from PULP.
Online edition with links to decisions and updates.

US-focused news, resources, and legal developments are available on Repro Rights Prof Blog.   View or subscribe.


JOBS

Jobs and Fellowships Women’s Rights and Reproductive Health, in Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia.  Global Health Corps.  Apply by Jan 17, 2018  for the 2018-2019 fellowships Details online.

Reproductive Health Matters.  Director and Editor-in-Chief.  2-year renewable contract.   Apply by Jan 8, 2018.  RHM Director and Editor Position details.

Links to other employers in the field of Reproductive and Sexual Health Law are online here

______________
Compiled by the Coordinator of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, reprohealth*law at utoronto.ca For Program publications and resources, see our website, online here. TO JOIN THIS BLOG: enter your email address in upper right corner of this webpage, then check your email to confirm the subscription.


REPROHEALTHLAW Updates — March 2017

March 29, 2017

SUBSCRIBE TO REPROHEALTHLAW: To receive these updates monthly by email, enter your address in upper right corner of this webpage, then check your email to confirm the subscription.

DEVELOPMENTS:
Caso I.V. v. Bolivia,   Sentencia de 30  Noviembre de 2016 (Excepciones Preliminares, Fondo, Reparaciones y Costas) Corte InterAmericana de Derechos Humanos [Inter-American Court of Human Rights]Decision 2016 in SpanishCase summary by Christina Zampas.  Amicus Curiae brief by Ciara O’Connell, Diana Guarnizo-Peralta and Cesar Rodriguez-Garavito in English.   Report on the Merits (2014) in English

Kenya Legal and Ethical Network on HIV & AIDS (KELIN) & 3 others v Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Health & 4 others [2016] Petition 250 of 2015 (High Court of Kenya Constitutional and Human Rights Division).  [Official collection of Kenyans’ HIV data halted, as “unconstitutional”]  Decision onlineComment from Jurist Blog.

[Kenya] Martin C.   v. Republic, Criminal Appeal No. 32 of 2015, April 26, 2016 (High Court of Kenya, at Malindi).  [sexual relationship between adult man of 23 and girl of 14 is not “defilement” because she sought it.  Prisoner released.]  Decision online.

[South Africa] Dwenga and Others v Surgeon-General of the South African Military Health Services and Others [2014] ZAGPPHC 727, Case No. 40844/2013, the High Court at North Gauteng. [against discrimination toward HIV+ employees in the military.]  Summary for Legal Grounds III.    Decision online.

[South Africa] Gary Shane Allpass v Mooikloof Estates (Pty) Ltd. [2011], Case No. JS178/09, a Labour Court of South Africa.  [wrongful dismissal of HIV-positive employee].  Summary for Legal Grounds III.   Decision online.

CALLS:

Calls for Papers, Special Issue on “Gender and the Rise of the Global Right,” in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. Submit by September 15, 2017,  Detailed call for papers.

Callls for Applications, “Health Rights Litigation Intensive” June 26-30, 2017, one-week summer course at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, at Georgetown University Law Center, Washington DC, USA.  Apply by April 10, 2017.  HR Litigation course info.

Gender Justice Uncovered awards 2017, is collecting the best and worst court decisions from 2016.  Nominate your best or worst case here in English.  Nomina tu caso ya  en Espanol.

RESOURCES

Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies, ed. Rebecca J. Cook, Joanna N. Erdman and Bernard M. Dickens, Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights Series, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014. 
New 20% discount code: PH70.  Now in paperback (March 2017), 
Table of Contents.    Introduction online at SSRN.  Table of Cases online (Spanish and English, with links to court decisions.   ¡Ahora en español! El aborto en el derecho transnacional (CIDE/FCE, 2016)  folleto con sumario 

Brazilian Supreme Court abortion ruling – I-CONnect blog symposium of scholarly comments from five perspectives:  Rebecca J. Cook and Bernard M. Dickens, Chao-ju Chen; Grégor Puppinck; Debora Diniz and Christine Ricardo; and Rachel Rebouché. 5 perspectives on Brazilian abortion ruling.

Brazilian dossier on “Gênero, Raça e Pobreza: a abordagem de múltiplas identidades pelo Direito” [Gender, Race and Poverty: The Multiple Identities Approach to Law] Revista FGV Direito 22(2015), ed. Marta Machado, online here.  includes articles in Portuguese or English with abstracts in both languages, about: domestic violence laws, CEDAW, maternity in prison, and research in prisons (by D. Diniz), and abortion, i.e.:
—[South Africa, abortion] “Claiming and Defending Abortion Rights in South Africa” / Reivindicando e defendendo o direito ao aborto na África do Sul” by Cathi Albertyn, Revista FGV Direito 22 (2015): 429-454   English article with Portuguese abstract.

US-focused news, resources, and legal developments are available on Repro Rights Prof Blog.  View or subscribe.

JOBS

Links to other employers in the field of Reproductive and Sexual Health Law are online here

______________
Compiled by the Coordinator of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, reprohealth*law at utoronto.ca For Program publications and resources, see our website, online here. TO JOIN THIS BLOG: enter your email address in upper right corner of this webpage, then check your email to confirm the subscription.


I.V. v. Bolivia decision: Forced sterilization is based on harmful gender stereotypes

March 29, 2017

Many thanks to Christina Zampas, a Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Fellow at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, for summarizing this decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.  She also presented oral expert testimony in this case during its hearing on 2 May 2016 in San Jose, Costa Rica, focusing on international and regional human rights standards in relation to informed consent to sterilization, and on gender discrimination and stereotyping. (Overview of her testimony.)

Caso I.V. v. Bolivia,   Sentencia de 30  Noviembre de 2016 (Excepciones Preliminares, Fondo, Reparaciones y Costas) Corte InterAmericana de Derechos Humanos  Decision in Spanish.

I.V. v Bolivia concerns the involuntary sterilization in 2000 of an immigrant woman from Peru in a public hospital in Bolivia during a caesarean section.   In its first case alleging forced sterilization and indeed, its first case on informed consent to a medical procedure, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights struck at the heart of such practices by addressing underlying causes of such violations: gender discrimination and stereotyping.

The Court held that the State violated the woman’s rights to personal integrity, personal freedom, private and family life, access to information and rights to found a family, and to be free from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment contrary to the dignity of a human being, all contained in the American Convention on Human Rights.  The State had also violated its duties to condemn all forms of violence against women under the Convention of Belem do Pará.   In finding these violations, the Court recognized that sterilization without consent annulled the right to freely make decisions regarding one’s body and reproductive capacity, resulting in loss of control over one’s most personal and intimate decisions, with lasting implications.

While generally agreeing with decisions about forced sterilization of Roma women issued by the European Court of Human Rights and the CEDAW Committee , the Inter-American Court’s decision is groundbreaking in that it uniquely highlighted the transcendent role of state obligations to respect and guarantee the right to non-discrimination in the context of women’s human rights violations. Thus, the Court recognized that the freedom and autonomy of women in sexual and reproductive health, generally, has historically been limited or annulled on the basis of negative and harmful gender stereotypes in which women have been socially and culturally viewed as having a predominantly reproductive function, and men viewed as decision-makers over women’s bodies. The Court recognized that non-consensual sterilization reflects this historically unequal relationship. The Court noted how the process of informed decision-making operated under the harmful stereotype that I.V., as a woman, was unable to make such decisions responsibly, leading to “an unjustified paternalistic medical intervention” restricting her autonomy and freedom.  The Court thus found a violation of the right to non-discrimination based on being a woman. It also stressed the particular vulnerability to forced sterilization facing certain women, based on other characteristics such as socioeconomic status, race, disability, or living with HIV.

The Court ordered both individual reparations and general measures, including ensuring education and training programs for healthcare and social security professionals regarding informed consent, gender-based violence, discrimination and stereotyping.  The Court’s unequivocal articulation of the right of women to make decisions concerning reproductive health, without being subjected to discrimination based on stereotypes or power relations, is important in this first case by an international or regional tribunal addressing this in the context of sterilization.  It could also apply to other reproductive health care contexts, such as the case for abortion.

Links for this case:
Caso I.V. v. Bolivia,   Sentencia de 30  Noviembre de 2016 (Excepciones Preliminares, Fondo, Reparaciones y Costas) Corte InterAmericana de Derechos Humanos  Decision in Spanish
Report on the Merits (2014) in English.
Amicus Curiae brief by Ciara O’Connell, Diana Guarnizo-Peralta and Cesar Rodriguez-Garavito:  in English.

Related decisions, alluded to above:
V.C. v. Slovakia, European Court of Human Rights (Decision 8 November 2011)
N.B. v. Slovakia,  European Court of Human Rights (Decision 12 June 2012)
VC and NB decisions, summarized by Andy Sprung
I.G. and others v. Slovakia  European Court of Human Rights (Decision 13 November 2012).
IG decision, summarized by Andy Sprung

UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
A.S. v. Hungary  (Decision online).
Summary  and documents from CRR.
Analysis by Simone Cusack, OP CEDAW blog.
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Compiled by the Coordinator of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, reprohealth*law at utoronto.ca.   For Program publications and resources, see our website, online here.     TO JOIN THIS BLOG: enter your email address in upper right corner of this webpage, then check your email to confirm the subscription.


Forced sterilization case against Bolivia: expert testimony by Christina Zampas

June 15, 2016

 

I.V. v Bolivia is the first case the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has heard on informed consent to medical treatment and the first case alleging forced sterilization. It is only the second reproductive rights case considered by this Court.

This case concerned the involuntary sterilization in 2000 of an immigrant woman from Peru in a public hospital in Bolivia during a caesarean section.  The doctors decided that a future pregnancy would be dangerous for I.V. and performed a tubal ligation, claiming that this was necessary in order to prevent a future pregnancy. They also noted that they had obtained I.V.’s consent while on the operating table. When I.V. learned that she had been sterilized she felt devastated, and has been seeking justice ever since.

In 2015, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights referred this case to the Inter-American Court for a decision, after having concluded that Bolivia was responsible for the violation of Articles 5.1, 8.1, 11.2, 13, 17, and 25 of the American Convention on Human Rights, and Article 7 of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women (Convention of Belém do Pará). The Commission’s report is online here.

Christina Zampas, a Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Fellow at the University of Toronto’s International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, presented oral expert testimony before the Court during its hearing on 2 May 2016 in San Jose, Costa Rica. Christina Zampas has studied forced sterilization issues since 2002, when at the Center for Reproductive Rights, she worked with the Center for Civil and Human Rights (Poradňa), Slovakia, to document the forced sterilization of Roma women in Slovakia, and co-authored Body and Soul: forced sterilization and other assaults on Roma reproductive freedom in Slovakia, online here.   Since then, she has engaged in advocacy and litigation before UN and regional human rights and intergovernmental bodies, calling for accountability on the issue. She has also co-chaired Open Society Foundation’s Working Group on Sterilization and has been instrumental in the development of health and medical association standards on the topic, including the World Health Organization (WHO) UN Inter Agency statement on forced and coerced sterilization (2014) online here, and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics’  guidelines on female sterilization (2011), pages 122-126.

In her recent testimony before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Zampas focused on international and regional human rights standards in relation to informed consent to medical care generally, and to sterilization specifically.  In her presentation, she explained United Nations and European Court of Human Rights standards and case law on the subject, including on the numerous cases against Slovakia concerning forced sterilization of Roma women, as well as international health and ethical standards.  She emphasized that international and regional health and human rights standards are clear: sterilization for prevention of future pregnancy cannot be justified on grounds of medical emergency, which would permit departure from the general principle of informed consent.  Even if a future pregnancy might endanger a person’s life or health, alternative contraceptive methods can be used to ensure that the individual does not become pregnant immediately. The individual must be given the time and information needed to make an informed choice about sterilization. The provision of information, counseling and sterilization under the stressful conditions of childbirth are not only a violation of the right to information but also violate the right to privacy, physical integrity and human dignity and are a gross disregard for an individual’s autonomy, rising to the level of inhuman and degrading treatment.

Zampas’s testimony also urged the Court to address the gender stereotypes and the intersectionality of gender with other characteristics, such as race and ethnicity, disability, HIV and migrant status, often underlying the practice. These stereotypes deem women incapable of making rational decisions about their reproductive capacity, stripping them of decision-making regarding their own bodies and lives. They assume that men and people in positions of authority—such as doctors who perform medical procedures, male family members, or society at large—are better positioned to make decisions for women. Human rights bodies have recognized the power imbalances in doctor-patient relationships and how this can lead to serious abuses, including in the use of the medical necessity doctrine. She noted that such notions, prevalent in society, can lead to violations of the right to be free from discrimination.

Zampas’s testimony set forth potential individual and structural (general) remedies, including compensation and an apology, law and policy reform that is in line with human rights standards, training and education of all health care staff, adoption of ethical guidelines to address informed consent and gender stereotyping, and monitoring of public and private health centers to ensure accountability, and guarantee an effective remedy when violations do occur.

Amicus briefs in this case were filed by Women’s Link Worldwide and the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, Yale Law School, Ciara O’Connell and Diana Guarinzo-Peralata at University of Sussex, and the Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic at CUNY Law School and Women Enabled International. Expert written testimony was provided by Luisa Cabal, in her capacity as a lawyer and expert on sexual and reproductive health and rights, and Ana G. Cepin, MD, Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The decision is expected within the next year.

Relevant publications:

Christina Zampas is co-author with Adriana Lamačková, a former LLM student in the program, of “Forced and Coerced Sterilization of Women in Europe,” International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics (2011), Forced and Coerced Sterilization.

Sterilization: list of program resources, including articles, theses, and further reading .   Sterilization resources.

Ethical and Legal Issues in Reproductive and Sexual Health, written or edited by Rebecca Cook and Bernard Dickens, published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics – Ethical/Legal articles  online.