HR expert: Conscientious objection may not hinder lawful abortions

September 29, 2017

Many thanks to Christina Zampas, one of fifty international experts and policymakers who recently convened in Montevideo, Uruguay, to share findings on the legal status and harms of conscientious objection to lawful abortions.   The refusal to provide services on grounds of conscience hinders lawful abortion in countries with both liberal and restrictive laws.  The practice also stigmatizes basic reproductive health services and in some cases pushes women to carry risky or unintended pregnancies to term, or to seek illegal or unsafe alternatives, which may have dire consequences, including death.

United Nations and regional human rights bodies have recognized the harmful effects of conscientious objection on the health and human rights of women.  They have articulated state obligations under the rights to health, to privacy and to non-discrimination, to ensure that women can access reproductive health services that they are lawfully entitled to receive.  For decades, human rights bodies have recommended that to comply with human rights obligations, states should decriminalize abortion, liberalize restrictive laws and remove barriers that hinder access to safe abortion.[1] “[I]n cases where abortion procedures may lawfully be performed, all obstacles to obtaining them should be removed,” including the unregulated practice of refusing to provide services based on conscience. [2]

UN treaty bodies have expressed concern about the harmful impact of the exercise of conscientious objection and have repeatedly urged those states that permit the practice to adequately regulate it to ensure that it does not limit women’s access to abortion services. [3]  The UN Special Rapporteur on Health, for example, has recognized that “conscientious objection laws . . . make safe abortions and post-abortion care unavailable, especially to poor, displaced and young women. Such restrictive regimes, which are not replicated in other areas of sexual and reproductive health care, serve to reinforce the stigma that abortion is an objectionable practice.” [4]   He has also recommended that states “[e]nsure that conscientious objection exemptions are well-defined in scope and well-regulated in use and that referrals and alternative services are available” and urged states to ensure that conscientious objection cannot be invoked in emergency situations. [5]

Human rights bodies have called on states to prohibit the improper use of conscientious objection by medical professionals.  And while human rights law does not require states to allow conscientious refusals to abortion, these human rights bodies have noted that where states do allow for it, they must regulate it, to ensure that it does not deny or hinder women access to lawful abortion.  They have explicitly specified that the relevant regulatory framework must ensure an obligation on healthcare providers to refer women to alternative health providers [6] and must not allow institutional refusals of care. [7]   The CESCR Committee, which monitors state compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,  has specifically recommended that states should also ensure that “adequate number of health-care providers willing and able to provide such services should be available at all times in both public and private facilities and within reasonable geographical reach.” [8]

This first International Convening on Conscientious Objection and Abortion, held August 1-3, 2017 in Montevideo, Uruguay, was sponsored by Mujer y Salud Urugay (MYSU) and the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC).  Participants agreed to further legal, ethical, health, and policy objectives that can mitigate the damaging effects of conscientious objection and reduce the immense burden on women who seek a legal, professional service that must be rendered without prejudice.
About the International Convening on Conscientious Objection and Abortion
Report on the meeting, and its declarations in English and Spanish
Report by South African delegation.

Conscientious Objection – List of resources from members of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program are online here.

Conscientious Objection to Abortion and Accommodating Women’s Reproductive Health Rights: Reflections on a Decision of the Constitutional Court of Colombia from an African Regional Human Rights Perspective, by Charles G Ngwena,  Journal of African Law 58.2 (October 2014) 183 – 209  now online here.

Christina Zampas is a Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Fellow at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law.  Short bio

ENDNOTES:
[1]  See, e.g., Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations: Jamaica, para. 14, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/JAM/CO/3 (2011) (urging the state to “amend its abortion laws to help women avoid unwanted pregnancies and not to resort to illegal abortions that could put their lives at risk. The State party should take concrete measures in this regard, including a review of its laws in line with the Covenant.”); Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations: Mali, para. 14, U.N. Doc. CCPR/CO/77/MLI (2003); Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations: Djibouti, para. 9, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/DJI/CO/1 (2013); Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations: Ireland, para. 13, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/IRL/CO/3 (2008). See also Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 28: Article 3 (The Equality of Rights Between Men and Women), (68th Sess., 2000), para. 10, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.10 (2000).

[2]  Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations: Argentina, para. 14, U.N. Doc. CCPR/CO/70/ARG (2000); see also CESCR, Concluding Observations: Argentina, para. 22, U.N. Doc. E/C.12/ARG/CO/3 (2011); Poland, para. 28, U.N. Doc. E/C.12/POL/CO/5 (2009); CEDAW, Concluding Observations: India, para. 41, U.N. Doc. CEDAW/C/IND/CO/3 (2007); Poland, para. 25, U.N. Doc. CEDAW/C/POL/CO/6 (2007).

[3]  ESCR Committee, Concluding Observations: Poland, para. 28, U.N. Doc. E/C.12/POL/CO/5 (2009); CEDAW Committee, Concluding Observations: Poland, para. 25, U.N. Doc. CEDAW/C/POL/CO/6 (2007); Slovakia, para. 29, U.N. Doc. CEDAW/C/SVK/CO/4 (2008); Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations: Poland, para. 12, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/POL/CO/6 (2010).

[4] Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Interim rep. of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, transmitted by Note of the Secretary-General, para. 24, U.N. Doc. A/66/254 (Aug. 3, 2011), para. 24.

[5] Id. Para 65(m), and Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Anand Grover – Mission to Poland, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/14/20/Add.3 (2010). paras. 50, and 85(k).  See also: CESCR Gen. Comment 22 in note 8 below.

[6]  See, e.g., CEDAW, General Recommendation No. 24: Article 12 of the Convention (Women and Health), para. 11, U.N. Doc. A/54/38/Rev.1, chap. I (“It is discriminatory for a State party to refuse to legally provide for the performance of certain reproductive health services for women. For instance, if health service providers refuse to perform such services based on conscientious objection, measures should be introduced to ensure that women are referred to alternative health providers.”); CESCR, Gen. Comment No. 22, paras. 14, 43; HRC, Concluding Observations,: Italy, U.N. Doc. HRC/C/ITA/CO/6, paras 16-17 (2017); CEDAWConcluding Observations: Croatia, para. 31, U.N. Doc. CEDAW/C/HRV/CO/4-5 (2015) (urging the State party to “ensure that the exercise of conscientious objection does not impede women’s effective access to reproductive health-care services, especially abortion and post-abortion care and contraceptives”); Hungary, paras. 30-31, U.N. Doc. CEDAW/C/HUN/CO/7-8 (2013) (urging the State party to “[e]stablish an adequate regulatory framework and a mechanism for monitoring of the practice of conscientious objection by health professionals and ensure that conscientious objection is accompanied by information to women about existing alternatives and that it remains a personal decision rather than an institutionalized practice”); CESCR, Concluding Observations: Poland, para. 28, U.N. Doc. E/C.12/POL/CO/5 (2009) (“The Committee is particularly concerned that women resort to clandestine, and often unsafe, abortion because of the refusal of physicians and clinics to perform legal operations on the basis of conscientious objection…. The Committee calls on the State party to take all effective measures to ensure that women enjoy their right to sexual and reproductive health, including by enforcing the legislation on abortion and implementing a mechanism of timely and systematic referral in the event of conscientious objection.”).

[7]  See, e.g., CEDAW, Concluding Observations: Hungary, para. 31(d), U.N. Doc. CEDAW/C/HUN/CO/7-8 (2013); CRC, Concluding Observations: Slovakia, paras. 41(f), U.N. Doc. CRC/C/SVK/CO/3-5 (2016).

[8] UN CESCR, Gen. Comment No. 22, paras. 14, 43 (“Unavailability of goods and services due to ideologically based policies or practices, such as the refusal to provide services based on conscience, must not be a barrier to accessing services. An adequate number of health-care providers willing and able to provide such services should be available at all times in both public and private facilities and within reasonable geographical reach. … Where health-care providers are allowed to invoke conscientious objection, States must appropriately regulate this practice to ensure that it does not inhibit anyone’s access to sexual and reproductive health care, including by requiring referrals to an accessible provider capable of and willing to provide the services being sought, and that it does not inhibit the performance of services in urgent or emergency situations”).

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Uganda: Harm reduction model for access to safe abortion

August 31, 2017

Congratulations and thanks to Moses Mulumba and his colleagues at the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) in Kampala for collaborating with Dr. Charles Kiggundu, a gynecologist and obstetrician, on a newly published article in the Legal and Ethical Issues section of the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics.

Access to safe abortion in Uganda: Leveraging Opportunities through the Harm Reduction Model” by Moses Mulumba, Charles Kiggundu, Jacqueline Nassimbwa and Noor Musisi Nakibuuka, International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 138 (August 2017): 231–236.  PDF free online for 12 months Submitted text  online at SSRN.

Access to safe and legal abortion services is a far reach for women and girls in Uganda. Although unsafe abortion rates have fallen from 54 to 39 per 1000 women aged 15-45 years over a decade, absolute figures show a rise from 294 000 in 2003 to 314,000 women having unsafe abortions in 2013.  Unfortunately, only 50% of the women who develop abortion complications are able to reach facilities for post-abortion care.  Despite the clinical evidence and the stories from undocumented cases, debate on access to safer and legal abortion is constricted, moralized, and stigmatized.  The harm reduction model has shown evidence of benefit in reducing maternal mortality and morbidity due to unsafe abortion while addressing related stigma and discrimination and advancing women’s reproductive health rights.  This article presents a case for promoting the model in Uganda.

Key words:  Abortion laws; Abortion policies and guidelines; Constitutional rights; Ethics; Harm reduction model; Human rights; Ugandan abortion law; Unsafe abortion


REPROHEALTHLAW Updates – June 2017

June 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

[Ireland]  Siobhàn Whelan v. Ireland, Comm. No. 2425/2014:  Ireland 12/06/2017, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/119/D/2425/2014 (UN Human Rights Committee), 12 June 2017, [Woman forced to travel to the UK for an abortion after fatal fetal abnormality diagnosis.  Abortion laws are “cruel and inhumane.”]   English decision.   Newspaper report. Press release from Center for Reproductive Rights.

[Northern Ireland]  R (on the application of A and B) v Secretary of State for Health, decision of  [2017] UKSC 41, June 14, 2017 (Supreme Court, U.K.) [ruled that girl from Northern Ireland, aged 15, was not entitled to NHS-funded abortion in England] Decision onlineComments by Sheelagh McGuinness and Keith Syrett.  Newspaper report.

RESOURCES

[abortion law: gestational age]  “Theorizing Time in Abortion Law & Human Rights,” by Joanna N. Erdman, in: Health and Human Rights Journal 19.1 (June 2017): 29-40.  Theorizing Time text. Download PDFSpecial issue on “Abortion and Human Rights.”

Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies” ed. Rebecca J. Cook, Joanna N. Erdman, and Bernard M. Dickens (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014)  Penn Press (discount code: PH70).   Review by Francisca Pou Giménez.    Spanish edition: (FCE/CIDE, 2016)     Reseña por Diego Garcia Ricci.
Traduções para portugues:
Capítulo 2: “Aborto em Portugal: novas tendências no constitucionalismo europeu,” por Ruth Rubio-Marín, Revista Direito GV São Paulo 13.1(jan./abr. 2017): 356-379 DOI: 10.1590/2317-6172201714  Tradução para o português.
Capítulo 4: “O princípio da proporcionalidade no controle de constitucionalidade das leis sobre aborto, por Verónica Undurraga, Publicum 2.2 (2016)   Tradução para o português.

[abortion law, Spain]  “Gender in Constitutional Discourses on Abortion: Looking at Spain from a Comparative Perspective,” by Blanca Rodriguez-Ruiz, Social & Legal Studies 2016, Vol. 25(6) 699–715, DOI: 10.1177/0964663916668251. ” PDF for academic subscribers.    Submitted Version.  (from special issue on “Regulating Abortion: Dissensus and the Politics of Rights” by Siobhàn Mullally, (Introduction to special issue).

[conscientious objection, Latin America]  “Refusing Reproductive Health Services on Grounds of Conscience in Latin America:  Challenging policies and practises based on human rights standards,” by Diya Uberoi and Beatriz Galli in  SUR International Journal on Human Rights, 24 (Dec 2016)  [special issue on “Women: Movements, successes and obstacles” Overview.  English edition.    Spanish edition.    Portuguese edition.

—-See also:  Conscientious objection:  Articles and projects of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto.  Download Conscientious objection resources.

[contraception, Uganda]  “Controlling Women’s Fertility in Uganda,” by Sylvia Tamale in SUR International Journal on Human Rights, 24 (Dec 2016)  [special issue on “Women: Movements, successes and obstacles”]  English edition.   Spanish editionPortuguese edition.

“Female Genital Cutting (Mutilation/ Circumcision): Ethical and Legal Dimensions,” by  R. J. Cook,  B.M. Dickens, and M.F. Fathalla (2002) 79 International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics : 281-287.  English abstract and article.
new Turkish translation: “Kadın Sünneti (Sakatlama/Sünnet): Etik ve Hukuki Boyutlar,” trans. Mustafa Erçakıca, in Beykent Üniversitesi Hukuk Fakültesi Dergisi 2.4 (Dec. 2016): 111-121.  Turkish download.

“Gender Stereotyping in the Military: Insights from Court Cases,” by Rebecca Cook and Cornelia Weiss, in Stereotypes and Human Rights Law, ed. Eva Brems and Alexandra Timmer (eds.), (Antwerp, Belgium: Intersentia, 2016) 175-198.  Submitted text.    PDF (online after June 2018)  About the book.

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

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 – May 2017

May 26, 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

Argentina:  Juzgado Nacional en lo Criminal de Instrucción 16, Secretaría 111 de la Capital Federal, causa 28.580/2015, “M.N.N.”  (28 de Junio de 2016).  National Criminal Court held a woman and the doctors who prescribed her abortion medications, not guilty of any crime because the woman’s health was at risk. The woman was pregnant because her partner raped her.  English summarySpanish summary.   Download decision in Spanish.

Colombia:  Constitutional Court blocked sterilization of a disabled girl who was too young to consent.   English summarySpanish summary with link to decision.

India:   Indu Devi v the State of Bihar [2017] No(s.) 14327, decided May 9, 2017 (Supreme Court of India). Destitute HIV+ woman, pregnant from rape, refused abortion past legal limit of 20 weeks, but State held responsible for delay that prevented legal abortion.  Summary by H. Kofman forthcoming on this blog  Judgment onlineAbstract by law student H. Kofman

Uruguay:  Woman refused legal abortion after former partner intervenes.   Summary in EnglishSpanish summary with link to decision. Safe Abortion Campaign report.

CALLS

Gender Justice Uncovered Awards: Nominations for best and worst court decisions.  Many striking cases and decisions summarized, e.g., Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay decisions mentioned above.    Vote before May 31, 2017

Call for Submissions: “Gender Violence and International Human Rights Law” for the 2018 Human Rights Essay Award, organized by Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Washington College of Law, American University, Washington DC.   Submission Information and form.

Open Call for Submissions, McGill Journal of Law and Health, peer-reviewed. Details and Editorial Guidelines.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES

Graduate study in Health Law now available at the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics, University of Ottawa, currently accepting LLM and PhD applications on a rolling basis for the 2017-2018 academic year.    Brochure online.

RESOURCES

“Abortion by telemedicine: an equitable option for Irish women,” by Wendy V. Norman and Bernard M. Dickens,  BMJ May 16, 2017; 357 Article online.

[abortion, Canada] “A Constitutional Future for Abortion Rights in Canada,” by Joanna Erdman, Alberta Law Review 54.3(2017):727-752   Article online.

[abortion, Europe]  “Legal and Political Discourses on Women’s Right to Abortion,” by Christina Zampas,  chapter 1 in:  A Fragmented Landscape: Abortion Governance and Protest Logics in Europe, ed.  Silvia De Zordo, Joanna Mishtal, and Lorena Anton   (New York: Berghahn, 2016)  Details from Publisher

[abortion law] “Regulating Abortion: Dissensus and the Politics of Rights” by Siobhan Mullally, introduction to special issue of Social & Legal Studies: An International Journal, 2016, Vol.25(6) . Introduction online.

[abortion law]  “Book Review: Francisca Pou Giménez on Rebecca J. Cook, Joanna Erdman and Bernard M. Dickens’s Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies”, on I-CONnect, Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law and Constitution Making, May 17, 2017  Book review online.   (Penn Press discount code: PH70).    Spanish edition, FCE/CIDE, 2016

[abortion law pedagogy] “The Social Life of Abortion Law: On Personal and Political Pedagogy,” by Nicky Priaulx, Medical Law Review 25.1(2017):73-98.  Download abstract and PDF.

[abortion travel]  “The Law of Stigma, Travel, and the Abortion-Free Island,” Columbia Journal of Gender & Law 33.1(2016): 29-37.  PDF online.

[conscience]  “Physicians, Not Conscripts — Conscientious Objection in Health Care,” by Ronit Y. Stahl and Ezekiel J. Emanuel, New England J Medicine 376 (April 6, 2017):  1380-85.  Full text for institutional subscribers

[Ireland]  The Citizens’ Assembly – Draft Bill [recommendations for Irish abortion law reform] by Lawyers for Choice, Human Rights in Ireland, April 25, 2017  Draft Bill online.

[Nigeria]  “Accountability for Maternal Healthcare Services in Nigeria,” by Onyema Afulukwe, International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 137.2(May 2017) 220-226.  Abstract.  PDF temporarily online for 12 months   Submitted text (typescript) online.

Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments: Judges’ Troubles and the Gendered Politics of Identity, edited by Máiréad Enright, Julie McCandless and Aoife O’Donoghue (Oxford: Hart, 2017)   re-imagines, re-writes and comments on 26 court decisions from feminist perspectives.  Our commentsTable of Contents and details

[South Africa]  Pregnancy Law in South Africa: Between Reproductive Autonomy and Foetal Interests, by Camilla Pickles (South Africa: Juta, 2017), (based on thesis from University of Pretoria,  Thesis abstract   Book details from publisher

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

REPORTS

“The Law, Trials and Imprisonment  for Abortion in [individual countries].”  International Campaign for Safe Abortion.  MexicoArgentina,  Kenya .

JOBS

Associate Professor/Professor and Assistant Director, Center for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria.  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.


Kenya: High Court halts HIV+ data collection, upholding dignity & privacy

May 26, 2017

Many thanks to Professor Ebenezer Durojaye of the Dullah Omar Institute for Constitutional Law, Governance and Human Rights at the University of the Western Cape, for abstracting this significant judgment for REPROHEALTHLAW subscribers.  Prof. Durojaye can be reached at  ebenezerdurojaye19 at gmail.com

Kenya Legal and Ethical Network on HIV & AIDS (KELIN) & 3 others v Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Health & 4 others [2016] eKLR Petition 250 of 2015. (High Court at Nairobi)  Decision online.

This case centres on a directive issued by Kenyan President Kenyatta requesting that the names of school-going HIV positive children, their guardians and HIV-positive pregnant women and their addresses be compiled for the purpose of assisting the government to respond and provide appropriate service and support to the children living with HIV/AIDS. The said information should include the number of children infected with HIV, number of guardians or caregivers infected with HIV, number of expectant mothers that are HIV positive and number of breastfeeding mothers who are HIV positive.

This directive was challenged by KELIN and others claiming that it violated the rights and privacy of people living with HIV as guaranteed in the Constitution and the “HIV Prevention and Control Act.” The Court agreed with this submission and found that the disclosure of school-going children’s HIV status will undermine the rights to dignity and privacy of children. While the intention of the government may be laudable, however, the implication of the directive will no doubt infringe on the rights of people living with HIV in general and HIV-positive children in particular. The International Guidelines on HIV provide that data and information about the HIV status of a person should be collected without linking the information to an individual.   This decision is significant in the sense that it not only protects the privacy and dignity of HIV positive persons (especially HIV positive children) but also addresses the implication of this for HIV related stigma and discrimination. It is a known fact that people living with HIV experience human rights abuses arising from stigma and discrimination. It is hoped that this decision will send a strong message to governments across Africa to desist from encroaching on right to privacy of HIV-positive persons, particularly HIV-positive children.

The full decision is online here.

Case Commentary by JURIST

Related Resources:

Kenyan constitutional  right to privacy was also upheld in this 2015 decision:
AIDS Law Project v. Attorney General and 3 Others [2015] eKLR, Petition No. 97 of 2010 (High Court of Kenya at Nairobi), declared not only that the criminal provision in Kenya’s HIV/AIDS Act was overbroad, vague, and therefore unconstitutional, but also that enforced disclosure of HIV status to sexual contacts violated constitutional right to privacy.   Decision online,  summarized and discussed in Legal Grounds III: Reproductive and Sexual Rights in Sub-Saharan African Courts   pp. 171-176).  CRR press release.

Legal Grounds III:  Reproductive and Sexual Rights in Sub-Saharan African Courts (Pretoria: PULP, 2017 ) [Discusses 54 court decisions 2008-2017, including 12 cases on “HIV”] Free PDF

Jacinta Nyachae and Paul Ogendi, “Litigating the right to health in Kenya: an analysis of selected cases,”  in: Litigating the Right to Health in Africa: Challenges and Prospects, ed. Ebenezer Durojaye (London, Routledge, 2015) Book information.

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The REPROHEALTHLAW Blog is compiled by the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, Canada,  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


Nigeria: Accountability for maternal healthcare services

May 26, 2017

Many thanks to to Onyema Afulukwe-Eruchalu for writing this useful new article in the Ethical and Legal Issues section of the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics.  She currently serves as Senior Legal Adviser for Africa at the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Afulukwe-Eruchalu, O. (2017), Accountability for maternal healthcare services in Nigeria. International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 137.2 (May 2017); 137: 220–226.  DOI:10.1002/ijgo.12108   PDF free online for 12 months.     Submitted text online.

High maternal mortality ratios (MMRs) serve as objective indicators of the poor condition of women’s health in any country and point to violations of human rights that are entrenched in national, regional, and global laws. For more than a decade, Nigeria has consistently been one of the top five listed countries with the highest MMRs in the world; in 2015, its MMR was estimated at 814 deaths per 100 000 live births, accounting for 19% of maternal deaths worldwide and approximately 58 000 deaths each year. Accountability for preventable maternal deaths and injuries is essential to both achieve and sustain a reduction in Nigeria’s high levels of maternal mortality. The present article addresses key human rights strategies for securing accountability, and identifies opportunities for healthcare providers to have leadership roles in the fulfillment of legal and ethical obligations to preserve women’s lives.
Free access to PDF online for 12 months
Submitted text (typescript) online.

See also:

Afulukwe-Eruchalu O. “Accountability for Non-Fulfilment of Human
Rights Obligations: A Key Strategy for Reducing Maternal Mortality
and Morbidity in Sub-Saharan Africa,” in Strengthening the protection of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the African region through human rights, ed. Charles Ngwena and Ebenezer Durojaye (Pretoria: Pretoria University Law Press (PULP); 2014) 119–151.  Free PDF book.
Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2015. (Geneva: World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund, United Nations Population Fund, World Bank Group, United Nations Population Division, 2015). Free PDF report.

Ethical and Legal Issues in Reproductive and Sexual Health – Articles from previous issues of the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics are all online here.
_________________________
The REPROHEALTHLAW Blog is compiled by the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, Canada,  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.

 

 


Northern Ireland: Advocating Abortion Rights – Local and Global Tensions

April 25, 2017
Congratulations to Dr. Catherine O’Rourke of the Transitional Justice Institute at Ulster University, Northern Ireland.  Her useful journal article was recently published in a special issue of Social & Legal Studies,  guest-edited by Siobhan Mullally, on “Regulating Abortion: Dissensus and the Politics of Rights”:

Catherine O’Rourke “Advocating Abortion Rights in Northern Ireland: Local and Global Tensions,” Social and Legal Studies 25 (6). pp. 716-740.
Published PDF       Submitted text (accepted after minor revisions)

Abstract:       It is frequently claimed that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is more significant for the cultural, rather than legal, work that it does in reframing locally contested gender issues as the subject of international human rights. While this argument is well developed in respect of violence against women, CEDAW’s cultural traction is less clear in respect of women’s right to access safe and legal abortion. This article examines the request made jointly by Alliance for Choice, the Family Planning Association Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Women’s European Platform to the CEDAW Committee to request an inquiry under the CEDAW Optional Protocol into access to abortion in the jurisdiction. The study found that the CEDAW framework was useful in underpinning alliances between diverse pro-choice organizations but less effective in securing the support of ‘mainstream’ human rights organizations in the jurisdiction. The article argues that the local cultural possibilities of CEDAW must be understood as embedded within both the broader structural gendered limitations of international human rights law and persistent regressive gendered sub-themes within mainstream human rights advocacy.
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For full text of this article, see:
“Regulating Abortion: Dissensus and the Politics of Rights”:  special issue of Social & Legal Studies, ed. Siobhan Mullally and Clare Murray:  Table of Contents
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