“Abortion and Public Health Ethics” by Dr. Mahmoud Fathalla

March 15, 2019

Congratulations and thanks to Dr. Mahmoud F. Fathalla of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Assiut University in Egypt, whose article in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of  Public Health Ethics can now be previewed online.

Mahmoud F. Fathalla, “Abortion and Public Health Ethics,” The Oxford Handbook of Public Health Ethics, ed. Anna C. Mastroianni, Jeffrey P. Kahn, and Nancy E. Kass, Oxford Handbooks Online,  February 2019,  Article online.

There is an ethical imperative to take public health action to eliminate the global problem of unsafe abortion. The moral obligation is dictated by the magnitude of the problem, the health inequities and social injustices that result from lack of access to safe abortion, the voices of women calling for action, and an international consensus recognizing unsafe abortion as a global health problem. The availability of public health interventions and the cost savings associated with fewer abortion complications reinforce the obligation to address unsafe abortion. Public health actions include reducing the need for abortion through family planning, providing safe abortion to the full extent of the law, managing abortion complications, and providing post-abortion care. These actions intersect with morality, religion, law, justice, and human rights. The public health community has a collective social and ethical responsibility to stand beside and behind women as they claim their human right to health.

public health ethics, abortion, unsafe abortion, public health, global health, justice, family planning, human rights

The full text of this article is online here.

Reproductive health and public health ethics” by B.M. Dickens and R.J. Cook (2007) 99 International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 75-79.
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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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.



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.


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.


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.

Africa: Human Rights Advances in Women’s Reproductive Health

May 28, 2015

Congratulations to Prof. Charles G. Ngwena of the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and co-authors Dr. Eunice Brookman-Amissah and Patty Skuster, J.D., M.P.P., from Ipas, whose new article has been published in the International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics and is now available online at SSRN.

Ngwena CG, Brookman-Amissah E & Skuster,  P.   ‘Human rights advances in women’s reproductive health in Africa’ (2015) 129 International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics  184-87.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights recently adopted General Comment No 2 to interpret provisions of Article 14 of the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women. The provisions relate to women’s rights to fertility control, contraception, family planning, information and education, and abortion. The present article highlights the General Comment’s potential to promote women’s sexual and reproductive rights in multiple ways. The General Comment’s human rights value goes beyond providing states with guidance for framing their domestic laws, practices, and policies to comply with treaty obligations. General Comment No 2 is invaluable in educating all stakeholders—including healthcare providers, lawyers, policymakers, and judicial officers at the domestic level—about pertinent jurisprudence. Civil society and human rights advocates can use the General Comment to render the state accountable for failure to implement its treaty obligations.

The full text of this paper is online at SSRN.

67 other articles on “Ethical and Legal Issues in Reproductive and Sexual Health” are available online here.