Ireland must comply with international human rights including HRC rulings in Whelan and Mellet cases

January 31, 2018

Many thanks to Mercedes Cavallo, a doctoral candidate in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, and a Reproductive Health Law Fellow,  for analyzing these two key Irish cases for readers of this blog:

On October 18, 2017, the Irish Oireachtas (Parliamentary) Joint Committee on Abortion recommended 15-2-2 not to fully retain the Eighth Amendment restrictions on abortion.   Irish abortion laws are among the most restrictive in the world and have been condemned by the UN Human Rights Committee in the cases of Whelan v. Ireland and Mellet v. Ireland.  Under the Irish Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, as interpreted by the Supreme Court of Ireland in Attorney General v. X and Others, abortion is a crime and is only permissible when it is established, as a matter of probability, that there is a real and substantial risk to the life, as distinct from the health, of the pregnant woman.

In addition, the “Abortion Information Act” 1995 restricts circumstances in which individuals (including health professionals) can provide information about legal abortion services in Ireland or abroad, and criminalizes “advocating or promoting” the termination of pregnancy.  Due to the constraints of this legal framework, women who need abortions in Ireland usually travel to the United Kingdom, with little information and no financial or psychological support from the State.

In the Whelan and Mellet. cases, the UN’s Human Rights Committee found Ireland non-compliant in denying abortion services and grief counselling to two women who had each been pregnant with a doomed foetus.

Siobhán Whelan, at 20 weeks pregnant, was informed that her foetus had a congenital malformation and would likely die in utero, during labor, or soon after birth. Her obstetrician mentioned that “in another jurisdiction [she] would be offered a termination but obviously not in this country due to Irish law.” The obstetrician expected Ms. Whelan to “continue with the pregnancy, attend ante-natal appointments ‘as normal’ and wait for nature to take its course.” Another doctor gave her a report of the scan, “in case [she] wanted to travel.”  She sought further information about travel, but most agencies could only assist women who were less than 13 weeks pregnant, so she learned about the Liverpool Women’s Hospital through a friend. At significant expense, she arranged babysitting, leave from work and farm relief.  Afterwards, she felt very isolated, and suffers from complicated grief and trauma.

Amanda Jane Mellet was 21 weeks pregnant when she was told that her foetus had congenital defects and would die in utero or shortly after birth.  Hospital staff said only that abortions were not available in Ireland and that some people “choose to travel.” The midwife advised her to contact an Irish family planning organization for information and counseling. Her doctor attempted to dissuade her from travelling to the UK for abortion. Only 12 hours after the abortion, she travelled to Ireland because she could not afford a longer stay in the U.K.  Upon her return, she was denied access to grief counselling. She still suffers from complicated grief and unresolved trauma.

In both cases, the Committee ruled that Ireland had violated the women’s rights to privacy (article 17), equality/non discrimination (article 26) and freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (article 7), under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  To make amends, the Committee required Ireland to pay full reparations to both women, make psychological treatment available to them, and take measures to prevent similar violations in the future.  According to the Committee, “the State party should amend its law on voluntary termination of pregnancy, including if necessary its Constitution, to ensure compliance with the Covenant, ensuring effective, timely and accessible procedures for pregnancy termination in Ireland, and take measures to ensure that health-care providers are in a position to supply full information on safe abortion services without fearing they will be subjected to criminal sanctions” (Mellet, para. 9).

In Mellet, Judge Nigel Rodley concurred that “the refusal of the State party to allow for terminations even in the case of fatal foetal abnormality cannot even be justified as being for the protection of the (potential) life of the foetus. In addition, not only has article 7 [prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment under ICCPR] been violated cumulatively … but by the very requirement that a pregnant woman carrying a doomed foetus is subjected to the anguish of having to carry the pregnancy to term.”(Mellet p.25).

As human rights expert Christina Zampas testified (2:27-2:45) before an Irish  parliamentary committee, Ireland is obligated to comply with international human rights law, including these two decisions: “The urgency of the human rights concerns in Ireland is reflected in serious human rights violations amounting to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, as found in the Mellet and Whelan cases. The UN Human Rights Committee held in these two cases that prohibiting and criminalising abortion in situations of fatal foetal impairment subjected these women to conditions of intense physical and mental suffering, and that no justification could be invoked, nor were there extenuating circumstances to excuse such harm.”

 So far, these decisions only represent a victory for the two victims.  The Human Rights Committee ignored that the criminalization of abortion in Ireland discriminates against women on grounds of sex and gender. The Committee decided that the women’s right to equality was violated only because other women who had had spontaneous miscarriages in Ireland could access counselling services, but they could not.

Equal treatment on grounds of sex and gender demands accommodation of the biological differences between men and women in reproduction,2 not endorsement of a false legal equality created by men for men.  Both decisions overlooked that the criminalization of abortion discriminates against women because it is a medical procedure that only women need, whereas the Irish legal system does not criminalize any medical procedure that only men need. Fortunately, concurring opinions by Committee members Yadh Ben Achour and Sarah Cleveland exemplify jurisprudence that strives to understand the perspectives of women in difficult situations.

It remains to be seen whether Irish government initiatives and a referendum this year, will bring Irish law into compliance with international human rights law.

Related resources:

Ireland:  Irish Government announces referendum on abortion, by Christina Zampas, Reprohealthlaw Blog, January 31, 2017.  Commentary online.

These are #115 and #116 in our Reprohealthlaw Commentaries Series. online here.
Compiled by the Coordinator of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, reprohealth*law at 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.


Spain: Health Service held accountable for objectors’ abortion delays and loss of uterus

October 31, 2017

Many thanks to Francisca Fernández Guillén, a feminist lawyer who specialises in sexual and reproductive health. She collaborated as an expert with the Women’s Health Observatory (part of the Spain’s Ministry of Health) on the development of the “Strategy for Assistance at Normal Childbirth in the National Health System”. She also gives training and talks for professionals on health legislation and bioethics and contributes articles and opinion pieces to journals and specialist presses, some of which can be read here.    We thank her for commenting on this enlightening case and decision:

Zurich Insurance PLC, Sucursal en España v. Doña Encarnacion y don César y Servicio Galego de Saude, Sentencia 00392/2017, Apelación 43/17 (High Court of Galicia at Coruña, Spain)  Decision online in Spanish

The Health Service of the autonomous region of Galicia in Spain was recently found guilty of intentionally concealing from a pregnant mother, the fact that her child was suffering from severe life-limiting anomalies that included “cri du chat” syndrome, a severe mental disability. The Health Service also obliged her to travel 600 km to receive an abortion in a private clinic that was insufficiently prepared to deal with her clinical condition. As a consequence, her child was born alive after seven months in the womb and died shortly afterwards, while the woman, only 32 years old, lost her uterus.

During the High Court proceedings, it emerged that her doctors had deliberately delayed the protocoled prenatal diagnostic testing. Once she had a proper diagnosis, following a consultation with a private geneticist, the gynaecologist in the regional health service then delayed authorization for an abortion, maintaining that it was necessary to carry out further diagnostic tests.  However, the expert witness called by the woman’s defence team made it clear that the tests on which the gynaecologist had insisted were primarily of interest to establishing cause of death and implications for future pregnancies, and were by no means urgent, especially in a case of advanced gestation that required immediate termination.

The High Court’s ruling made it clear that what had occurred was a “severe failure of the health system.” The president of the regional government, Albert Nuñez Feijoo, resolved not to appeal the initial decision of the county court and apologized for what had happened, attributing blame to the fact that a very high proportion of doctors in the region are “conscientious objectors” to medical abortions.  Nevertheless, the Health Service’s insurance company, hoping to reduce their compensation to the victim, appealed to the High Court of Galicia, which subsequently ratified the county court’s sentence, along with particularly harsh criticism of the Health Service’s actions.

During the court proceedings, it was put forth that the birth of child with such a severe illness is an insurmountable burden for the mother, her family and society.  As a lawyer, I am concerned that this woman’s experience is not an isolated case.  During the proceedings, I learned of a number of women who have had similar experiences with the Health Service.

In one instance, a woman gave birth to a boy who suffers from severe disability and cardiopathy, including Golenhar syndrome and Tetralogy of Fallot. His mother, abandoned by the boy’s father during the pregnancy, is an immigrant from South America who works as a domestic assistant and has insufficient economic or social resources to bring up a child with such severe disabilities. Unfortunately, she doesn’t wish to take the case to court for fear of repercussions, since her child must receive care from the same hospital for the duration of his life.

Despite reporting this and other known cases to the appropriate authorities in the health service, I have never received any response and, to this day, no effective measures have been put in place to ensure that religious ideology and a lack of ethical commitment, inappropriately called “conscientious objection”, don’t put the lives and health of women in danger.

Zurich Insurance PLC, Sucursal en España v. Doña Encarnacion y don César y Servicio Galego de Saude, Sentencia 00392/2017, Apelación 43/17 (High Court of Galicia at Coruña, Spain)  Decision in Spanish 

News reports:
El Pais (English):  “The doctors’ right to object nearly cost me my life” Health system ordered to compensate woman who lost uterus after hospital refused to carry out abortion

(Spanish) The Galician government found guilty and must pay 270.000 € to women who lost her uterus  See also: The President of the autonomous region of Galicia apologizes
The REPROHEALTHLAW BLOG is managed by the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, reprohealth*law at  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.



Chile: Constitutional Tribunal upholds constitutionality of new abortion law

September 21, 2017

Many thanks to Carlos Herrera Vacaflor, LL.M., for providing the following overview of this historic decision in Chile.

Tribunal Constitucional Chile, STC Rol N° 3729(3751)-17 CPT,  Requerimientos de inconstitucionalidad presentados por un grupo de Senadores y Diputados, respecto de normas del proyecto de ley que regula la despenalización de la interrupción voluntaria del embarazo en tres causales, correspondiente al boletín N° 9895-11.  Decision in Spanish: 295 pagesAccompanying documentsOther Submissions
New: English Decision: 149 pages includes a Table of Contents for both English and Spanish editions.

On August 21, 2017, the Constitutional Tribunal of Chile, in a 6 to 4 ruling, upheld the constitutionality of a Bill (now enacted into law) that decriminalizes abortion in three cases: rape, fatal fetal impairment and when a woman’s life is in danger.

The Tribunal based its ruling on the following guiding principles, among others. On the basis of international human rights treaties ratified by Chile and national legal developments on maternity, the Tribunal recognized that pregnancy affects the physical and psychological integrity of a woman, since a fetus occupying a woman’s body causes physical and physiological transformations.  Furthermore, the Tribunal stated that criminal law on abortion imposes severe restrictions on rights, and leads to social and legal condemnation of individuals. The Tribunal, given such punitive power, recognized that criminal law should only be considered as an instrument of last resort, in order to limit the restrictive effect the law has on rights.

The Tribunal interpreted “threat to the life of the woman” as a risk to her life (riesgo vital). Only the physician who provides the abortion is needed to diagnose the risk to the woman’s life; no further examinations are required, lest the provision of care be delayed. Abortion is also decriminalized when the fetus carries a fatal congenital or genetic impairment impeding its survival outside the womb. The Tribunal maintained that since the Bill requires that two specialist physicians diagnose the disease of the fetus, these professionals must avoid decisional paralysis that could put a woman in greater danger. In cases of rape, the Tribunal considered constitutional the limits on access to abortion: for girls under the age of 14, abortion must be performed before 14 weeks of gestation; if the victim is older than 14, before 12 weeks of gestation.

The Tribunal also recognized, by an 8 to 2 vote, the constitutionality of institutional conscientious objection. The Tribunal found institutional conscientious objection also constitutional. Given the lack of uniformity on whether artificial legal “persons” (such as hospitals or clinics) have a right to conscience and religion in the Inter-American System of Human Rights, the Tribunal decided to elaborate its own position. The Tribunal considered it arbitrary to limit the scope of conscientious objection only to professionals intervening in abortion care. It argued that freedom of conscience and religion is protected for all persons in the Constitution and that, under comparative case law, educational institutions and private associations have been recognized as conscientious objectors in the context of education.

Full texts of Decision and Submissions:  Decision in Spanish -295 pagesAccompanying documentsOther Submissions     New: English Decision: 149 pages includes a Table of Contents for both English and Spanish editions. 

Chilean law professors who addressed the Court included:
Prof. Veronica Undurraga  presentation  in Spanish.
Prof. Lidia Casas Becerra  
presentation in Spanish, at minute 42.

Amicus curiae brief re: International consensus on abortion law with respect to decriminalization, by Joanna Erdman and Rebecca Cook:
Spanish and English briefs in one PDF.

Amicus curiae brief re conscience and conscientious objection by Prof. Bernard M. Dickens:  English PDF    Spanish PDF.

“Chile Celebrates its First Steps Towards Fulfilling Abortion Rights,” by Lidia Casas and Lieta Vivaldi, on Health and Human Rights Journal website.   Blogpost in English

Press Release from Center for Reproductive Rights.  Online in English.

Newspaper report in English.


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REPROHEALTHLAW Updates – Nov. 2016

November 24, 2016

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Gender Justice Uncovered Awards – internationally elected, from cases abstracted by Women’s Link Worldwide:   Best and Worst Judgments of the year.

India: High Court on its own Motion v.  The State of Maharashtra, Suo Motu Public Interest Litigation No. 1 of 2016,  Civil Appellate Jurisdiction, High Court of Judicature at Bombay,  India, September 19, 2016. [Prison inmate granted abortion on compassionate grounds.]  Judgment online.

Spain: Tribunal Constitucional, Sentencia S.T.C. 145/2015, 25 de junio de 2015, 2015182 BOE 66654.  [Seville pharmacy had been fined €3,000 in 2008 for refusing to sell emergency contraceptive, but Spanish constitutional court overturns decision on appeal.]  Spanish judgment now online, including dissenting opinions.  Published decisionEnglish newspaper report. Summary by Women’s Link Worldwide

Tanzania: decision against child marriage:  Rebeca Z. Gyumi v The Attorney General, Miscellaneous Civil Cause No. 5 of 2016, Date of Judgment: 8/7/2016,  [Tanzanian age of marriage laws are found discriminatory and unconstitutional]   Decision online Comment by Girls Not


“Disability and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights”  Reproductive Health Matters 25.49, (June 2017). Submit paper by  (extended) deadline Dec. 10, 2016.   Detailed call for papers.

Disability: “The notion of maternal immunity in tort for pre-natal harms causing permanent disability for the born alive child”  Human Rights Controversies,  Special Issue of The International Journal of Human Rights.  Submit paper by February 1, 2017.  Detailed call for papers

“Equality rights, human rights or social justice…”  Journal of Law and Equality (peer-reviewed, student-run) is currently accepting submissions for its Spring 2017 publication.  It publishes research articles, case comments, notes, and book reviews by a diverse group of commentators including professors, practitioners, and students.  Submit papers to  JLE  at gmail. com


[abortion] “Mandatory Waiting Periods and Biased Counseling Requirements in Central and Eastern Europe: Restricting Access to Abortion, Undermining Human Rights, and Reinforcing Harmful Gender Stereotypes.” Center for Reproductive Rights.  Fact Sheet online.

[abortion law, Chile]   Debates y reflexiones en torno a la despenalización del aborto en Chile, Lidia Casas Becerra y Delfina Lawson  (LOM, 2016).  Libro en línea, 325 paginasIndice en Espanol.

[abortion law, Latin America, constitutions]  Paola Bergallo and Agustina Ramón Michel, “Constitutional Developments in Latin American Abortion Law,”  International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 135 (2016) 228–231.   PDF online here

[abortion, rape and child marriage  in Sri Lanka]  Submission    to    the    Committee    against    Torture    re  the Sri    Lanka’s Fifth    State    Party    Report, October    2016 by the OMCT (World Organization Against Torture) and Global Justice Center, focuses on how Sri Lankan law violates the Convention Against Torture by banning abortion in most circumstances, and by authorizing rape in certain instances and child marriage.
Press Release     Shadow Report

[conscientious objection, Canada] “Let Thy Conscience Be Thy Guide (But Not My Guide!): Physicians and the Duty to Refer” (October 12, 2016) Daphne Gilbert, McGill Journal of Law and Health 2016 10(2).  Abstract and Article.

[fetal abnormality testing] “Ethical and Legal Aspects of Noninvasive Prenatal Genetic Diagnosis,” by Bernard M. Dickens,  International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 124.2 (2014): 181-184. Abstract and Article.

[personhood and assisted reproduction, Argentina]   “The Lingua Franca of Reproductive Rights: The American Convention on Human Rights and the Emergence of Human Legal Personhood in the New Civil and Commerce Code of Argentina,” by Martin Hevia and Carlos Herrera Vacaflor, 23 U. Miami Int’l & Comp. L. Rev. 687 -740. Article online.

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


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

Noninvasive Prenatal Genetic Diagnosis

November 24, 2016

Congratulations to Prof. Bernard M. Dickens whose article, abstracted below, is now universally available.

Bernard M. Dickens, “Ethical and Legal Aspects of Noninvasive Prenatal Genetic Diagnosis,”   International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 124.2 (2014): 181-184. online here.

Abstract:  The new technology that will allow genetic testing of a fetus within the first trimester of pregnancy by isolating cell-free fetal DNA (cffDNA) in the mother’s blood raises a range of ethical and legal issues. Considered noninvasive, this test is safe and reliable, and may avoid alternative genetic testing by amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling, which risks causing spontaneous abortion. Ethical and legal issues of cffDNA testing will become more acute if testing expands to fetal whole-genome sequencing. Critical issues include the state of the science or diagnostic art; the appropriateness of offering the test; the implications of denying the test when it is available and appropriate; disclosure and counseling following test results; and management of patients’ choices on acquiring test results. A challenge will be providing patients with appropriate counseling based on up-to-date genetic knowledge, and accommodating informed patients’ legal choices.  Full text is online here.

Related Reading:
Rebecca J. Cook, “Stigmatized meanings of criminal abortion law,” chapter 16 of Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), 347-369, analyzes the decision of R.R. v. Poland (European Court of Human Rights),  which held that a woman in Poland should not have been denied access to genetic prenatal examinations which would have enabled her to decide whether or not to seek a legal abortion in Poland. Abstract of this chapter.   Book: Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective.   Libro: El aborto on el derecho transnacionalRR v Poland decision.

Bernard M. Dickens, “Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis and ‘Saviour Siblings’International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Vol. 88, pp. 91-96, 2005  is online here.

76+ other articles on Ethical and Legal Issues in Reproductive Health are on our Program webpage here.

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REPROHEALTHLAW Updates, June 2016

June 14, 2016

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“Ireland’s abortion laws subjected a woman to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, according to a  landmark decision from the United Nations Human Rights Committee.”
Center for Reproductive Rights, CRR press release.   UN Press Release, June 9, 2016Newsmedia reportsDecision CCPR/C/116/D/2324/2013 online.


Master’s degree (LLM/MPhil) in Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Africa,  University of Pretoria, South Africa, Two-year program starts in Jan. 2017.   Blended learning course with online interaction and residential block-weeks in Pretoria, South Africa. Two contact sessions will be scheduled every year (four contact sessions over the two year period).   Apply by 31 Oct 2016. Up to 15 full scholarships available for African citizens.  African LLM/MPhil details.


[abortion, U.K. and U.S.] “With advances in embryo research, it’s time to bring abortion law out of the Victorian age,” by Sally Sheldon. Kent Law School, Kent University, Canterbury, BioNews 853 (May 31, 2016)  Article online.

[conscientious objection – institutions] Contracting Religion, by Elizabeth Sepper,  in:  Law, Religion, and Health in the United States, ed. Holly Fernandez Lynch, I. Glenn Cohen, & Elizabeth Sepper (Forthcoming: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2017). (Draft chapter online).

[fetal abnormality, microcephaly, Brazil]  Special issue of Cadernos de Saúde Pública 32.5 (2016) Rio de Janeiro includes a special thematic section:
“Zika and Pregnancy”  Table of Contents with links to translations.
— “Zika virus and women,” by Debora Diniz (English and Portuguese)
— “The debate on abortion and Zika: lessons from the AIDS epidemic,” by Thais Medina Coeli Rochel de Camargo, (English and Portuguese)
— “Women’s reproductive rights and the Zika virus epidemic,” by Jacqueline Pitanguy (English and Portuguese)
— “Comment on the paper by Pitanguy,” by Florencia Luna (English and Spanish)
— “Ensuring a rights-based health sector response to women affected by Zika” by Paige Baum, Anna Fiastro, Shane Kunselman, Camila Vega, Christine Ricardo, Beatriz Galli, and Marcos Nascimeno (English and Portuguese).
— “Comment on the article by Baum et al.,” by Ana Cristina González-Velez
(English and Spanish)
— “Zika and reproductive justice,” by Alexandra Minna Stern (English)

[fetal abnormality, microcephaly] “Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Time of Zika in Latin America and the Caribbean,” by Ana Langer, Jacquelyn M. Caglia andClara Menéndez, Studies in Family Planning 47.2 (June 2016): 179-181.  Online version.

Law and Policy updates are issued monthly by International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion.  To receive the electronic newsletter, click “Join the Campaign

[maternal deaths, Uganda]: “Why the Constitutional Court should rule on the right to health,” by Michael Addaney in AfricLaw blog,  June 3, 2016  AfricLaw blogpost,

[stereotyping] “Emerging from the Shadows: Substantive Equality and Article 14 of
the European Convention on Human Rights,” by Sandra Fredman, Human Rights Law Review 16 (2016): 273–301   Advance access.

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


[El Salvador]  Sentenced to 40 Years After a Miscarriage, Maria Teresa Rivera was freed May 20,2016 News report in English.   News report in Spanish


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 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, Resources and News

October 29, 2014

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


Ireland: Detailed guidelines on legal abortion released: Termination permitted when there is “real and substantial threat” to a woman’s life – News article July 2014.

Kenya:  High Court:  Police should investigate child sexual assaults.   C.K. (a child) (Through Ripples International As Her Guardian And Next Friend) & 11 Others  v.  Commissioner of Police/Inspector General of the National Police Service,  & 3 Others [2013] eKLR  Decision onlineSummary by law student.

Peru adopts National Guidelines, an important step to clarify rights to safe abortion services, in response to CEDAW “LC” decision of 2011.  News  July 2014.  Center for Reproductive Rights press release.

Zimbabwe Supreme Court finds State liable for preventing emergency contraception after rape but not termination of pregnancy.  Mildred Mapingure v Minister of Home Affairs, No. SC 22/14, 25 March 2014, Supreme Court of Zimbabwe.  Court  Decision online.    Summary by law student.


“Overcoming Obstacles – Towards the effective implementation of the rights of women with disabilities in Africa, Conference at the Center for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, South Africa, Tues/Wed Nov 4-5, 2014.  Conference invitation.

FIGO World Congress 2015, Vancouver, BC,  Canada,  Oct 4-9, 2015 .  Congress 2015 website


[abortion, Brazil]  “Modern-Day Inquisition: A Report on Criminal Persecution, Exposure of Intimacy and Violation of Rights in Brazil,” by Alexandra Lopes da Costa, in: SUR – International Journal On Human Rights, 10.19, Dec. 2013. Abstract and article online.

Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective:  Cases and Controversies, ed. Rebecca J. Cook, Joanna N. Erdman and Bernard M. Dickens, 16 chapters.  Published by University of Pennsylvania Press, August 2014, 482 pages.
Introduction by the editors: online through SSRN.
Book reviewers should contact Gigi Lamm (glamm {a} pobox. upenn. edu)
Includes 16 chapters, Table of Legislation,

Table of Cases, also online here, with links to abortion-related decisions in English and/or other languages).
Table of Contents online here.
Purchase info: link to U Penn Press.

“Abortion Privacy/Abortion Secrecy – What’s the Difference and Why Does It Matter?””  video guest-lecture by US professor Carol Sanger at Birmingham Law School, UK, April 29, 2014, 53 minute lecture by Prof. Sanger.
Written comment by Prof. Máiréad Enright on the Human Rights in Ireland blog, June 6, 2014.  Written comment by Prof. Enright

[adolescents – El Salvador, Senegal and United Kingdom]  Over-protected and under-served: Legal barriers to young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health services.  Case studies 32-60 pages each.

[Canada]  “Choice, Interrupted: Travel and Inequality of Access to Abortion Services Since the 1960s,” Christabelle Sethna, Beth Palmer, Katrina Ackerman, and Nancy Janovicek, Labour/Le Travail, 71 (Spring 2013), 29-48.  Abstract and article online.

[Colombia]  Case Study on Colombia: Judicial Standards on Abortion to Advance the Agenda of the Cairo Programme of Action, by Ana Cristina González Vélez and Viviana Bohórquez Monsalve, SUR – International Journal On Human Rights, v. 10, n. 19, Dec. 2013.  Abstract and article online.

[Colombia]  “Movement and Counter-Movement: A History of Abortion Law Reform and Backlash in Colombia, 2006-2014” by Alba Ruibal,  (November 20, 2014). Reproductive Health Matters, Vol. 22, No. 44, November 2014, Forthcoming. Abstract online.

[Conscientious objection in healthcare – Colombia Constitutional Court’s definition of 2009]
—-T388/2009:  “Conscientious Objection And Abortion. A Global Perspective On The Colombian Experience,”   English, 198 pages    Spanish, 210 pages    (Joint publication by Women’s Link Worldwide and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law.

—“Striking a Balance: Conscientious Objection and Reproductive Health Care from the Colombian Perspective,”  by Luisa Cabal, Monica Arango Olaya, Valentina Montoya Robledo,  Health and Human Rights Dec.  2014, 16/2.  Special issue on Health Rights Litigation.   Abstract and article online.

—see also:  “Healthcare responsibilities and Conscientious Objection” by R. J. Cook, M. Arango Olaya and B.M. Dickens,  International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 104 (2009): 249-252. English original.   Spanish translationOther “Ethical and Legal Issues in Reproductive Health”

[emergency contraception, Chile] “Morning-After Decisions: Legal Mobilization against Emergency Contraception in Chile,” by Fernando Muñoz León,  Michigan Journal of Gender and Law 21(2014):123-175.  Article online.

Health and Human Rights Resource Guide – updated 5th edition, from Harvard University. Searchable, available in English, Spanish and Georgian.  Resource Guide.

Health & Human Rights Syllabi Database has moved to USC:  Overview online.

[Late-stage clinical trials]  “Ethical issues for late-stage trials of multipurpose prevention technologies for HIV and pregnancy,” by Jessica A. Cohen, Anna C. Mastroianni and Ruth Macklin,  International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 127 (2014) 221–224.  Abstract and article online.

[Sexual and Gender-based Crimes]:  Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of International Criminal Court publishes comprehensive Policy Paper.  More info and download.

[South Africa] “The Nasciturus Non-Fiction – The Libby Gonen Story – Contemporary Reflections on the Status of Nascitural Personhood in South African Law, by Marc Schulman (March 31, 2014 working paper).  Abstract and article online. 

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


Czech Republic: Controversial abortion pill (RU-486) goes on sale in Czech pharmacies.  English edition and Czech radio report.

Northern Ireland:  Public consultation on proposal to allow abortion for fetus with lethal abnormality  Newspaper article


Global Legal Program 2015 Summer Internship at New York office- apply as soon as possible, before Nov 28, 2014 applications accepted on rolling basis.  Global internship details.

Legal Adviser for Latin America and the Caribbean, Bogota Colombia, Legal adviser LAC details.

US Federal Policy Law Student Intern, Center for Reproductive Rights, New York, USA.   Apply for Spring 2015 by Oct. 29, 2014  US internship 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.