Human Rights to In Vitro Fertilization – IACtHR decision

September 19, 2013

Congratulations to Fernando Zegers-Hochschild of the University of Diego Portales in Chile, who collaborated with our Co-Director Bernard M. Dickens and our LL.M. graduate Sandra Dughman-Manzur, on this recently-published article, now online here.

Human Rights to in Vitro Fertilization

International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 123 (2013) 86–89.


The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (the Court) has ruled that the Supreme Court of Costa Rica’s judgment in 2000 prohibiting in vitro fertilization (IVF) violated the human right to private and family life, the human right to found and raise a family, and the human right to non-discrimination on grounds of disability, financial means, or gender. The Court’s conclusions of violations contrary to the American Convention on Human Rights followed from its ruling that, under the Convention, in vitro embryos are not “persons” and do not possess a right to life. Accordingly, the prohibition of IVF to protect embryos constituted a disproportionate and unjustifiable denial of infertile individuals’ human rights. The Court distinguished fertilization from conception, since conception—unlike fertilization—depends on an embryo’s implantation in a woman’s body. Under human rights law, legal protection of an embryo “from conception” is inapplicable between its creation by fertilization and completion of its implantation in utero.

Entire article is online here.

Related Resources:
Inter-American Court of Human Rights:  IVF Decision of Nov. 28, 2012
judgment in English -132 pages
English summary by Center for Reproductive Rights:  press release

judgment in Spanish – 116 pages
Official Spanish summary -14 pages
Spanish summary by Mónica Arango et al.

More articles on Ethical and Legal Issues in Reproductive and Sexual Health are online here.

Court Decisions, Calls, Resources, News, Scholarships & Jobs

January 17, 2013

January 17, 2013


Assisted Reproduction in Costa Rica 
Inter-American Court of Human Rights:  Artavia Murillo y otros (Fecundación In Vitro) v. Costa Rica.   CDH-12.361/177.  Decision of Nov. 28, 2012.   Costa Rica’s ban on in vitro fertilization violates human rights of infertile couples.  Cost Rica must lift its ban on IVF, provide psychological support to complainants, and train judiciary employees on human and reproductive rights. 
Decision online in Spanish:  116 page judgment
Official Summary in Spanish:  14 page summary  
Decision online in English   132 page judgment
English summary by Center for Reproductive Rights:  press release
Costa Rica will comply with court’s decision.  article in Huffington Post

Freedom of religion –  rights and limits – in the United Kingdom
European Court of Human Rights:  Eweida and Others v. The United Kingdom.  (Applications nos. 48420/10, 59842/10, 51671/10 and 36516/10), January 15, 2013– All four cases involved freedom to express religion at work.  Court affirmed freedom  to express religion at work, within the limits of public health and safety, but not to withhold public services (e.g. from same-sex couples) on grounds of religion.   Religion cannot be used as grounds for discrimination. 
53-page decision    Court’s press release  
European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights –  press release


Call for papers: “Creating new development paradigms to achieve sexual and reproductive health and rights: critical analysis and reflection,” for Reproductive Health Matters, 21.42 (Nov 2013). submit 1-31 May 2013.  Details and new submission instructions

Call for participation by NGOs/civil society organization to help UNFPA measure progress, gaps and outstanding issues re: implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action.  Please respond by Feb 12, 2013.    
15-20 minute UNFPA survey


Call for applications:  “Women and International Human Rights Law,” summer course taught by Elizabeth Abi-Mershed and Rebecca Cook, in the Program of Advanced Studies on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Washington College of Law, American University, Washington D.C., May 28 – June 14, 2013.   10 courses in English and 9 in Spanish.  Applications will be reviewed until May 1, 2013. Details online.   

Call for applications,  CIHR Training Program / Fellowships in Health Law, Ethics and Policy for international and Canadian students enrolled in a full-time master’s or doctoral degree at one of four Canadian law schools:  University of Sherbrooke, University of Alberta, University of Toronto, and Dalhousie University.   Apply by:  March 15, 2013.   Brochure.   Admission & Application Process.

Call for applications:   Legal Fellowship Programme for lawyers & women’s HR defenders with paralegal training from Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan & Sri Lanka, sponsored by South Asia Women’s Fund (SAWF)  $4000 USD.   Apply by Jan. 31, 2013.   More information

Call for applications.  Global Health Law LL.M. Program  at Georgetown Law,  Online webinar:  Monday, January 28, 2013, 12 noon  to 1:00 PM EST.   Webinar Information.    Program Information.    Scholarships and Fellowships.    LL.M. Application deadlines


[Canada – abortion law]  “R v Morgentaler: Reflections After 25 Years”   Tuesday, January 29, 2013 – 5:30-7:30 p.m., Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, Bennett Lecture Hall, Flavelle House, 78 Queen’s Park Crescent.   Speakers and details


“Applying Human Rights to Improve Access to Reproductive Health Services,” by Dorothy Shaw and Rebecca Cook, 119 (2012). International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics S55–S59.
abstract & article online.

[conscientious objection] “Conscientious Objections in Pharmacy Practice in Great Britain,” by Zuzana Deans, Bioethics, 27.1 (Jan 2013):. 48-5.  abstract online.

[conscientious objection, conscience] “Not Only the Doctor’s Dilemma: The Complexity of Conscience in Medicine,” by Elizabeth Sepper, Faulkner Law Review, 2013. abstract & article online.

Reproductive Rights: A Tool for Monitoring State Obligations, published by The Center for Reproductive Rights and UNFPA.  More information
Tool – 31 pages.

Spanish publications by members of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program are online here.


Chile – abortion info hotline on misoprostol use is in legal gray area.  NY Times article.

Ireland – government pledges to allow abortions in life-threatening cases, including suicide risk. (Dec 19, 2012) .   News Item. 

Ireland:  Parliamentary Committee held hearings Jan 8-10, 2013  to discuss government action to comply with the 2010 European Court of Human Rights judgment in A, B and C v. Ireland.    The Irish Human Rights Commission is holding a separate review on this topic, and the broader question of Ireland’s international human rights obligations in the area of abortion.  Human Rights Watch article.

Peru – 60,000 signatures are needed to petition Congress to consider bill to legalize abortion after rape.  High rape rate.  
Article by Françoise Girard (IWHC)

Philippines:   Reproductive Health Bill, 14 years in the making, passed and signed by President.  Act will become law January 17, 2013.
Act Providing for a National Policy on Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health.  Republic Act No. 10354,  S. No. 2865, H. No. 4244.  New law is online here.
Center for Reproductive Rights press release.

United Kingdom pledges to ensure abortion access for women raped in war.   News from Global Justice Center

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


Litigation fellow, Open Society Foundations (Justice Initiative), Law degree required.  Apply by March 31, 2013.  Job 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 For Program publications and resources, see our website, online here.   Past editions of this blog since Sept. 2011 are online here.

Court Decisions, News, Resources, Calls, Events, Fellowships & Jobs

November 9, 2012


Colombia:  Constitutional Court reaffirms the obligation of the Inspector General to provide right information on sexual and reproductive rights and health.  
Summary of the decision at Women’s Link

European Court of Human Rights: 
Case of P. and S. v. Poland, no. 57375/08, [2012] E.C.H.R. 1853.
Raped teenage girl should have been given unhindered access to abortion Decision online      ECtHR Press Release
Case Summary by Y.Y. Chen,  Comments, and Press releases


Argentina:  Judicial Council will investigate a judge who tried to restrict abortion access for a 12-year-old whose pregnancy was the result of rape.   News article in Spanish

Poland:  bill restricting abortion in cases of serious fetal damage  – defeated  Press release from

UN  Human Rights Council adopts resolution on “traditional values”  while awaiting expert report on traditional values in March 2013.  Traditional values can be used to interpret,  reinforce or weaken  human rights.  ISHR press release    Text of the Resolution.

Uruguay:  Uruguay decriminalised abortion
New law in Spanish, online here.     Newspaper article in English
–New Abortion law breaks ground for women’s rights but burdensome procedures could undermine access.  Human Rights Watch analysis

US-focused news, resources, and legal developments are available on Repro Rights Prof Blog.  Subscribe or view here.


[abortion] “Think About It”  Ipas Brazil’s clever “Vai Pensando ai” video campaign, now in English, shows anti-choicers surprised by consequences of illegal abortion.
30-second English video
30-second Portuguese video

[abortion – Argentina] Argentine province-by-province reports on the application of abortion protocols and additional requirements brought by conservative groups, including time limits on termination of pregnancies, among others.  Clarin newspaper report in Spanish    “Progress and setbacks for access to legal abortion” 
Pagina 12 article in Spanish.

[abortion, harm reduction] Maternal mortality, Unsafe Abortion and the Harm Reduction Model: the Legal Platform – Materials to legally support health professionals tasked with the implementation of the harm reduction model to prevent unsafe abortion.
50-page report from Women’s Link Worldwide

[abortion – harm reduction] Access to Information on Safe Abortion: A Harm Reduction and Human Rights Approach by Joanna N. Erdman, Harvard Journal of Law & Gender, Vol. 34, pp. 413-462, 2011,  available on SSRN.

[abortion]   Harm reduction and abortion by Deborah Diniz, Developing World Bioethics, editorial online.

[abortion – Japan]   History of abortion law in Japan – overview online

[abortion stigma] Abortion and Disgust by Courtney M. Cahill,  Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, Vol. 48, 2013 
Article online at SSRN.

[abortion stigma] Doctor’s Dilemma – Stigma in Asian  Hospitals 
Asian Safe Abortion Partnership – ASAP blog post

[abortion stigma] Canadian women have been challenging abortion stigma by publishing their stories & photographic portraits online at Arts4Choice.  Now calling  for Participants for forthcoming book 

[child marriage] UNFPA:   Marrying too Young – End Child Marriage, mentions international agreements, national laws, law enforcement, customary law 74 page report, 2012   includes legal and policy reforms for each country.

“Evidence-Based Advocacy: Expanding Our Thinking About “Repeat” Abortions,” by Steph Herold.  RH Reality Check blog

International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Programme: Publications page.

[IVF – Latin America]  “The Legal Status of In Vitro Fertilization in Latin America and the American Convention on Human Rights” by Martin Hevia and Carolos Herrera Vacaflor,  Suffolk Transnational Law Review Forthcoming, but now available at SSRN

(Nigeria) Substantive Equality and Maternal Mortality in Nigeria, by Ebenezer Tope Durojaye. Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law, Vol 65, pp. 103-132, 2012. Abstract  available at SSRN  

Sex Work and the Law in Asia and the Pacific:  Laws, HIV and human rights in the context of sex work, by John Godwin, 2012.  This new UNDP/UNFPA/UNAIDS report examines links between sex work, HIV and the law in Asia and the Pacific, and analyzes how current laws, policies and practices help or hinder HIV responses
Press release      226-page report 


McGill Journal of Law and Health is now accepting submissions in French or English  Submission information

Arts4Choice is calling for participants for forthcoming book of abortion stories by ordinary Canadian women with portraits by photographer K Palmateer, aiming to reduce stigma.   details online at


“The Right to Abortion and the Right to Contraception” Critical Thinking Forum, Cape Town, South Africa, 13 November 2012, 4 pm for 4:30 till 20:30. RSVP   More information


Postdoctoral Fellowship, The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School
2-year fellowship for persons interested in pursuing academic careers in this field.  Apply by November 16, 2012. 
Application materials     Information about Petrie-From Center


Global Advocacy Director within the Global Legal Program.  For more information about duties and responsibilities, requirements, and how to apply, visit our website. Applications will be accepted through November 16, 2012.  Job information

Lecturer/Practitioner in Residence, University of Miami Human Rights Clinic, 2 years, renewable, starting Summer 2013, U.S. legal training required. Apply by Dec. 14, 2012. Job details online.

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 (a) utoronto*ca
For Program publications and resources, see our website here.

Court decisions, Resources, News, Fellowships and Jobs

October 17, 2012

Oct 17, 2012


Argentina – Supreme Court approves abortion for raped woman forced into prostitution  News report   
Related criminal complaint against Buenos Aires mayor for divulging private information to delay abortion   News report

Canada:  Supreme Court:  Low-risk ARV patients need not disclose HIV positive status to sex partners if condom used.  Such deception no longer poses “significant risk of serious bodily harm”.   R. v. Mabior, 2012 SCC 47, Oct 5, 2012.  Decision online.

Colombia:  Constitutional Court  ruling reaffirms the duty of all State public employees to provide accurate information on sexual and reproductive health and rights.  In this historic decision, Sept. 12, 2012, the Court ruled against government officials who were disseminating false, incomplete or distorted information, in blatant disregard for the verifiable findings of judicial, scientific and legal authorities.  Press releases from Women’s Link Worldwide: 
English press release 
Spanish press release

European Court of Human Rights, July 24, 2012, D.J. v Croatia:
Croatia failed to adequately investigate rape claim.  Decision online 
Interights submitted a third-party brief on secondary victimization of rape victims by law enforcement and justice personnel. 
Overview & links to brief


“Abortion Worldwide” – Guttmacher educational video (4 minutes)  illustrates key evidence and statistics:   
English video       Spanish video     French video

[abortion] Dignity and Sexuality: Claims on Dignity in Transnational Debates Over Abortion and Same-Sex Marriage, by Reva B. Siegel. I•CON 10 (2012), 355-379; Yale Law School, Public Law Working Paper No. 259. Working paper online

[abortion, Nepal]  10th Anniversary of 2002 decriminalization of abortion.  Since then, maternal deaths have declined 78%.
(3 short videos by ASAP):
1. Nepal Before the Decriminalization Bill of 2002, interview with Dr. Anand Tamang, director of CREHPA, Nepal
about the research studies that gave activists the ammunition they needed to challenge the abortion law    5 minute video
2. The Legal Struggle to Decriminalize Abortion – interview with Advocate Sapana Pradhan Malla recalls the legal struggle to create an abortion exemption under the homicide law.  Nepal still needs a separate rights-based law   5 minute video
3.Increasing Access to Safe Abortion – interview with Dr. Indira Basnett, Director Ipas Nepal,  re strategies to improve Accessibility, Acceptability and Affordability  5 minute video 

[abortion stigma]  Ethicist Leslie Cannold’s 19-minute video explains the problem abortion stigma and suggests how to break the cycle of shame, silence and ignorance    19-minute video

[abortion UK] “Abortion: The Civilised Solution” – Dr. Ellie Lee advocates decriminalization of abortion in discussion with young people. 44-minute video

[conscientious objection] “Is there no alternative? Conscientious objection by medical students” by Robert F Card,  Journal of Medical Ethics  38 (2012):  602-604.  Abstract does not not mention abortion, but article does.   article & abstract

Conscientious Objection to Sexual and Reproductive Health Services: International Human Rights Standards and European Law and Practice, by Christina Zampas and Ximena Andión-Ibañez,  European Journal of Health Law 19 (2012) 231-256.   article online.

[assisted repro – Latin America]  The Legal Status of In Vitro Fertilization in Latin America and the American Convention on Human Rights, by Martin Hevia & Carlos Herrera Vacaflor.  Suffolk Transnational Law Review, Forthcoming.  Article online

[maternal mortality/morbidity reduction] “Technical guidance on the application of a Human Rights-based Approach to the implementation of policies and programmes to reduce preventable maternal morbidity and mortality,” submitted to UN Human Rights Council, July 2, 2012    Press Release       Guidance Document  

Gender Issues and International Human Rights: An Overview” by Dianne L. Otto, Human Rights Law Series, Edward Elgar (2012); U of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No. 606.  Article online

Reproductive and Sexual Health Law – upper-year course at University of  Toronto law school – course materials available online for noncommercial educational use or adaptation to other contexts.  Course materials online

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


[abortion – Australia] “Politics v women’s health: RU486 and the TGA saga ”  Mifepristone (RU486) finally added to Australia Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) in August 2012.   News report 

France will reimburse abortions 100%, begining 2013.  News report.

[abortion – Jamaica] CEDAW urges Jamaica to reconsider abortion laws for cases of rape, incest. News report.

[abortion – Morocco] – Abortion ship launches safe abortion hotline in Morocco.  Press release

[abortion – Northern Ireland] New Marie Stopes clinic to offer abortion services within current legal framework.  News report

[abortion – Uruguay]  Uruguay set to legalize abortion -final debate in Senate begins today.   News report


Center for Reproductive Rights/Columbia Law School Fellowship
2-year, post-graduate fellowship, to prepare recent law school graduates for legal academic careers in reproductive health and human rights.  For the 2013-2015 cycle, apply by October 29, 2012.  Fellowship details

Law Students for  Reproductive Justice – Fellowship Program for current 3Ls and recent law school graduates interested in working to advance reproductive justice through policy advocacy.  Apply by Nov  1, 2012.  Fellowship details


Executive Director, Canadians for Choice, apply by Oct 26, 2012. 
Job details

Women’s Legal Rights Advisor – Mexico – apply by Nov 15, 2012. 
Job details

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

Compiled by the Coordinator of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, Email  reprohealth*law (a) utoronto*ca
For Program publications and resources, see our website, online here.

Decisions, Events, Fellowships, Resources, News & Jobs

September 12, 2012

REPROHEALTHLAW-L  September 11, 2012


Australia (Queensland):  Activist ob/gyn who established website on safe medical abortion at home found guilty of unprofessional conduct. Medical Board of Australia v Freeman [2012] QCAT 288 (6 July 2012)
Decision online here.

European Court of Human Rights – decision  re IVF ban in Italy
Costa and Pavan v. Italy (application no. 54270/10), ECHR 327 (2012)  August 28, 2012.
Ban preventing couple of healthy carriers of genetic disease from screening embryos for in vitro fertilisation violated their right to respect for their private and family life.
Case may be referred to Grand Chamber within 3 months.
Decision in French.    Court Press release in English.
News summary in English.

New Zealand Supreme Court:  Right to Life’s appeal dismissed.
The Abortion Supervisory Committee v. Right to Life New Zealand Inc. [2011] NZSC 73.  Judgment  and Media Release of August 9, 2012 are online here at “[2012] NZSC 68.”  The Court ruled that the Abortion Supervisory Committee does not have the power to scrutinize individual doctors’ decisions regarding approval of abortion (that is, whether or not the abortion meets the legal requirements set out in the Crimes Act 1961).  For background, see 2011 legal commentary by YY Chen,
2008 legal commentary by Simone Cusack  and timeline by ALRANZ.


Youth (age 18-25) Advocacy Institute for Safe Abortion Rights [in Asia] to be held in Mumbai, India Oct 31 – Nov 3, 2012. Full or partial scholarships available.  (Urgent) Apply by Sept 12, 2012. Application info.

“From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom.” Conference, Amherst MA, USA, April 12-14, 2013. Proposals due: Sept 17, 2012. Conference details.

“Religious Refusals Undermining Access,” webinar by Global Rights Watch, with panel of advocates from Argentina, Colombia and the U.S. to be held Thurs Sept 27, 2012 first at 9:00am, repeating at 2:00pm, Eastern Daylight Time (GMT- 4).  For registration and access info, email Sheena*Reiter @ ppfa*org.


Center for Reproductive Rights/Columbia Law School Fellowship 2-year, post-graduate fellowship, to prepare recent law school graduates for legal academic careers in reproductive health and human rights For the 2013-2015 cycle, apply by October 29, 2012.
Fellowship details.

Norman Barwin Scholarship for Reproductive Health for Canadian graduate students registered full-time at a Canadian university during the 2012-2013 academic year.  Apply by Oct 19, 2012. 
Scholarship details

Humphrey Fellowship in International Human Rights or International Organization for law or political science students now at Canadian universities.  Apply by Nov 15, 2012. Eligibility criteria and 2013 application form will be available as of Sept 14, 2012.
Fellowship details.

Schulich Fellow 2013-14, Dalhousie University, Schulich School of Law. Halifax, NS, Canada, Apply by Dec 15, 2012.
Fellowship details. 

Schulich Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Dalhousie University, Schulich School of Law. Halifax, NS, Canada, Apply by Dec 1, 2012 Call for Expressions of Interest (2013‐2014).
Visiting Scholar fellowship details.


[abortion ] Breaking Through the Development Silos: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Millennium Development Goals and Gender Equity Experiences from Mexico, India and Nigeria (by DAWN, 2012)   217-page report.

[abortion] Unsafe abortion – International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, Special Supplement, Sept 2012, includes articles on Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, USA & Zambia.    abortion supplement.

[abortion: European Union] “The European Court of Human Rights, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and the Right to Abortion: Roe v Wade on the Other Side of the Atlantic?” by Federico Fabbrini, 18 (2011-2012) Columbia Journal of European Law 1-54.

[abortion:  Uganda]  A Technical Guide to Understanding the Legal and Policy Framework of Termination of Pregnancy in Uganda Center for Reproductive Rights)  46-page report
Knowledge of law on abortion could save Uganda’s women:
News interview with Elisa Slattery. See also:  10 key points about Uganda’s laws & policies on termination of pregnancy

[abortion, Uruguay] “The Politics of Reproductive Health Rights in Uruguay: Why the Presidential Veto to the Right to Abortion is Illegitimate” by Oscar A. Cabrera, Martin Hevia, Fanny Gómez-Lugo and Analía Banfi-Vique  (2011). Revista de Direito Sanitário, São Paulo – Journal of Health Law, July 2011. Article in English.

[abortion – Uruguay] “El veto del ejecutivo Uruguayo a la despenalizacion del aborto: Deconstruyendo sus fundamentos” (2010) by Analia Banfi Vique, Oscar A. Cabrera, Fanny Gomez Lugo, and Martin Hevia. (republished by MYSU, 2012)  Article in Spanish.

[abortion USA] The Constitutionalization of Abortion, by Reva B. Siegel.  In: Michel Rosenfeld and Andras Sajo, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Constitutional Law 1057 (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2012). Chapter proofs online.

[abortion & genetic testing] “Mixed Messages: The Intersection of Prenatal Genetic Testing and Abortion” by Rachel Rebouché & Karen H. Rothenberg, Howard Law Journal, Vol. 55, No. 3, 2012, p. 983.
Article online

[CEDAW – right to health] The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women: A Commentary (Oxford University Press 2012) includes chapter on Article 12 (Health) by Rebecca Cook and Veronica Undurraga, which demonstrates how art. 12 has been and could be applied to discriminatory health situations.
Abstract of “Health” chapter online. 
Lowest price is at OUP UK: Info on 792-page book.
For additional 20% discount, blog subscribers may request flyer from reprohealth*law @ utoronto*ca

Conscientious Objection to Creating Same Sex Couples: An International Analysis, by Bruce MacDougall, Elsje Bonthuys, Kenneth McK. Norrie & Marjolein van den Brink, Canadian Journal of Human Rights (2012) 1(1): 128-164  Article online. 

Conscientious Objection –  list of our publications and projects, with links.

[Conscientious objection & abortion – Brazil]  “Aborto e objeção de consciência,” by Beatriz Galli, Jefferson Drezett, Mario Cavagna Neto,  64.2 Ciencia e Cultura,  São Paulo Apr./June 2012, 32-35. Article in Portuguese.

“Women, abortion and the new technical and policy guidance from WHO”   Mahmoud F Fathalla & Rebecca J Cook, Bulletin of the World Health Organization 90(2012): 712.  Article online here. 
Second edition of WHO Safe Abortion Guidance:
WHO Safe Abortion Guidance 2012.

The World’s Abortion Laws 2012 –  by the Center for Reproductive Rights:
Updated map online.

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


Australia: medical abortion ban repealed. RU486 medical abortion pill finally registered.  Next hurdle: getting the drug on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.  News item.

Brazilian government announces intentions to comply with CEDAW decision re maternal mortality case of Alyne da Silva Pimentel v. Brazil.  Announcement in English and Portuguese by Dhesca Brazil.
Dhescas earlier letter to President of Brazil et al, co-signed by 16 organizations.  English translation.

India: Crackdown on female foeticide in Maharashtra  creates shortage of abortion pill.  News item.

Poland: Campaign to liberalize Polish abortion law seeks signatures.  Petition online in English and Polish.


Assistant Professor, Biomedical Ethics and the Law, Department of Community Medicine, Division of Public Health Law and Ethics, University of Connecticut.  Job details. 

Socio-Legal Research Consultant(s),  The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) seeks individuals/organisations qualified to undertake qualitative research on legal and policy barriers that young people face in accessing SRH services in the UK & two other countries to be chosen jointly by IPPF and the researcher. Contact Katherine Watson (kawatson @ ippf*org) for PDF outline.  Applications due Sept 25, 2012.

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

Compiled by the Coordinator of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, reprohealth*law @ utoronto*ca.  For Program publications and resources, see our website.

Australia: Prisoner access to IVF

February 9, 2012

Australia: Landmark Supreme Court Decision on Prisoner Access to Reproductive Healthcare

Castles v Secretary to the Department of Justice [2010] VSC 310 (9 July 2010)

On 9 July 2010, the Supreme Court of Victoria in Australia found that the plaintiff, Kimberley Castles, was entitled to undergo IVF treatment while serving a term of imprisonment at a low security women’s prison.

Prior to her incarceration, Ms Castles had been receiving IVF treatment for over a year.  From 27 November 2009, Ms Castles made repeated requests to continue to access IVF at her own cost, emphasising that she would become ineligible for treatment from December 2010 by reason of her age.

On 3 May 2010, the Department of Justice made a decision to deny Ms Castles’ request.  The Secretary reasoned that Ms Castles ‘does not have an entitlement to this form of medical treatment’ and cited, among other things, resource constraints and the precedent that may be set by allowing Ms Castles to access treatment.

Emerton J found that, in Ms Castles’ circumstances, IVF treatment was ‘reasonable and necessary for the preservation of health’ under section 47(1)(f) of the Corrections Act.

The Court recognised that IVF is ‘a legitimate medical treatment for a legitimate medical condition’.  In a landmark statement on the status of reproductive healthcare, her Honour held:

“I see no proper basis to treat IVF treatment differently from other forms of medical intervention that are considered to be necessary to enable people to live dignified and productive lives, unencumbered by the effects of disease or impairment.”

Accordingly, Ms Castles was deemed eligible for permits to leave the prison on a visit-by-visit basis, subject to security and resource considerations.

This matter was run on a pro bono basis by the Human Rights Law Centre, together with law firm Blake Dawson, Debbie Mortimer SC and Michael Borsky of Counsel.

Further commentary is available here.

The decision is available here.

Rachel Ball is Director of Policy and Campaigns with the Human Rights Law Centre (rachel.ball&AT&hrlc. org. au)