“How Laws Fail the Promise of Medical Abortion,” by Patty Skuster

January 31, 2018

Congratulations to Patty Skuster, Senior Policy Advisor at Ipas and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Public Health Initiatives;  her recently published article is now publicly available through SSRN.  We thank her for abstracting this article for Reprohealthlaw subscribers:

Patty Skuster, “How Laws Fail the Promise of Medical Abortion: A Global Look,” Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law 18.379, 2017.  Article online at SSRN

Abortion law has not kept pace with abortion practice, namely the rising use of abortion with pills. Evidence is growing that women can safely use misoprostol without the involvement of a healthcare professional. And researchers have attributed abortion with pills outside formal health care settings to a worldwide decrease in abortion mortality.

Meanwhile, abortion law globally and nationally remains rooted in outdated abortion methods that do require a healthcare professional.  Global human rights experts recommend governments decriminalize women who seek abortion to meet human rights treaty obligations and reduce unsafe abortion deaths. However, the vast majority of abortion laws—even recently liberalized ones—still require a health-care professional to perform or approve legal abortion. More recent laws have progressed to allow mid-level providers (instead of medical doctors) to provide legal abortion. But even in liberal settings, women who end their abortion with pills and without a provider face imprisonment.

This article includes a summary of treaty body recommendations on abortion and the right to life and health. While treaty bodies call for governments to change laws to make abortion more accessible, treaty bodies have failed to address the nearly universal criminalization of women’s self-abortion with pills. It offers examples of laws that criminalize women’s self-use: newer laws in Uruguay and Uganda, and Zambia which, like many other former British Colonies, follows the model of the United Kingdom and requires provider involvement.

To make real progress toward upholding women’s rights to health and life, human rights authorities and governments must examine provider involvement requirements in abortion laws. We must work toward laws that permit all women to realize the promise of medical abortion.

Related links:

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. doi:10.1002/ijgo.12190   PDF at Wiley Online Submitted text.

Updated WHO Guidance on Safe Abortion: Health and Human Rights”   by J.N. Erdman, T.  DePiñeres, and E. Kismödi, International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 120 (2013): 200-203. Article online

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

Ethical and Legal Issues in Reproductive and Sexual Health80+ brief articles

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 — July/August 2017

August 31, 2017

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[Chile] Abortion legalized in three cases: when the woman’s life is at risk, when the fetus will not survive the pregnancy, and in case of rape).  New law ruled constitutional by the Constitutional Court of Chile on August 28, 20176:  STC Rol N° 3729(3751). 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.  Tribunal Constitucional Chile.  Decision in Spanish -295 pagesAccompanying documentsOther Submissions  Newspaper report in English.    Overview by Carlos Herrera, LL.M.
Many Chilean law professors addressed the Court, including:
   Prof. Veronica Undurraga  presentation online.
Prof. Lidia Casas Becerra  
presentation begins at minute 42:00


[United Nations – CEDAW] General Recommendation 35,  Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, (CEDAW) concerns gender-based violence against women, updating General Recommendation 19 (1992). e.g.: “Violations of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, such as forced sterilizations, forced abortion, forced pregnancy, criminalisation of abortion, denial or delay of safe abortion and post-abortion care, forced continuation of pregnancy, abuse and mistreatment of women and girls seeking sexual and reproductive health information, goods and services, are forms of gender-based violence that, depending on the circumstances, may amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” (Art. 18)  Calls for repeal of ” legal provisions that discriminate against women,”(Art. 31) including “legislation that criminalises abortion” (31a).  Advance Unedited version of Gen. Rec. 35, 24 July 2017

Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network, for the Law and Society Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada, June 7-10, 2018, on the theme: “Law at the Crossroads”  500-word abstracts due Sept 17, 2017 Submission link.   Detailed call for papers  Pre-formed panels or ideas are welcome at:  2018lsacrn at gmail.com.

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

El aborto en el derecho transnacional: casos y controversias,  ed. Rebecca J. Cook, Joanna N. Erdman y Bernard M. Dickens (Mexico: FCE/CIDE, 2016)   En espanol, 2016: Fondo de Cultura Económica Libreria CIDE.     Índice con resúmenes de capítulos 1-5
Tabla de Casos/Jurisprudencia en línea con enlaces a muchas de las decisiones judiciales

[abortion law] Amicus curiae brief on international legal consensus  on abortion law reform, non-arbitrariness and proportionality, and grounds and procedural protections. 20 pp, submitted to the Tribunal Constitucional of Chile by Professors Joanna Erdman and Rebecca Cook, August 10, 2017.   Spanish and English PDF

[abortion law, Ireland] “The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013: Suicide, Dignity and the Irish Discourse on Abortion”, by Claire Murray, Social and Legal Studies 25.6 (Dec 2016): 667-698   PDF onlineAccepted version.

[abortion, Uganda] “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 (Aug. 2017): 231–236. doi:10.1002/ijgo.12190   PDF temporarily online for 12 months Submitted text online at SSRN.

[Africa] “The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights and the Woman Question”, by Ebenezer Durojaye and O. Oluduro, Feminist Legal Studies (2016) 24: 315-336  Abstract and article.

[conscientious objection] Amicus curiae brief  on conscientious objection by Professor Bernard Dickens submitted to the Tribunal Constitucional of Chile, August 10, 2017  English PDF     Spanish  PDF

[abortion drug, Canada]: “Mifegymiso” (a combination of two abortion pills: mifepristone and misoprostol RU-486), approved by Health Canada in 2015, is now available free of charge in Ontario through pharmacies by prescription from physicians and nurse practitioners  News article.

International news and resources for advocacy:  International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion.

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

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.

Developments, Resources, Opportunities and Jobs

March 31, 2014


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.


[Canada] Supreme Court upholds sexual assault conviction of man who pierced girlfriend’s condoms to impregnate her. The “condom sabotage constituted fraud … the result that no consent was obtained,” in R. v. Hutchinson, decision of March 7, 2014, 2014 SCC 19, docket no. 35176
56-page decision online.   News coverage.

[Europe – Italy – abortion – conscientious objection] European Committee on Social Rights on the merits of the complaint International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN) v. Italy, Complaint No. 87/2012, re women’s difficulties accessing termination of pregnancy under Italian legislation which amount, according to the complainant organisation, to a breach of the right to health as guaranteed by the European Social Charter.  Health facilities do not effectively compensate for the deficiencies in service provision caused by health personnel who  invoke their right of conscientious objection.  IPPF complaint (30 pages);  Decision on the merits (67 pages).  Summary of Decision (4 pages), IPPF press release.

[Europe – parental leave and surrogacy] Court of Justice of the European Union.  Judgment in Cases C-167/12 C. D. v S.T. and C-363/12 Z. v A Government Department and the Board of Management of a Community School.  EU law does not require that a mother who has had a baby through a surrogacy agreement should be entitled to maternity leave or its equivalent.  The Pregnant Workers Directive merely lays down certain minimum requirements in respect of protection, although the Member States are free to apply more favourable rules for the benefit of such mothers. Official Press Release.   Decisions in English and French.

[CEDAW] Statement of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on sexual and reproductive health and rights: Beyond 2014 ICPD review, 57th session, 10 – 28 February 2014. CEDAW statement.

The Airlie Declaration on Safe and Legal Abortion, 27 March, 2014,  Virginia.  Outcome of a 2-day meeting co-sponsored by Ipas, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and the Center for Reproductive Rights.  Political, health and human rights leaders from over 30 countries took part in the event. About the meeting.    Declaration and signatories.  

Morocco reforms its rape law, January 8, 2014,  Article 475 of the Criminal /penal Code allowed rapists to escape prosecution if they married their victim, justifying the traditional practice of pressuring the victim to marry her rapist to preserve “family honor.”   New amendment removes the second paragraph of the article, lifting the immunity of the rapist and preventing him from marrying his victim.  WLP Press release.

South Africa is launching their new Contraception and Fertility Plannning guidelines.  Contraception guidelines.

Zimbabwe Supreme Court: Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association successfully sued Government for raped woman denied abortion, Mildred Mapingure was awarded compensation for her and the resulting child.  Zimbabwe news.


“Task Sharing in Abortion Care,” (FIAPAC) International Federation of Professional Abortion and Contraception Associates  bi-annual conference  for health care professionals working in the field of abortion care and contraception, Ljubljana, Slovenia,  October 3-4, 2014.  FIAPAC conference details.

“Histories on the Edge” Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, May 22-25, 2014, Toronto, Canada ( includes panel discussion “Pregnant Bodies As Conflict Zones: Abortion Politics in Transnational Context” with Grace Millar Sarah B. Rowley, Katrina Ackerman, Shannon Stettner, Lori A. Brown, Barbara Baird, Catherine Elizabeth Kevin, Discussants: Karissa Haugeberg and Rebecca Cook, May 25).  Preliminary Program.


Fellowships for MA Social Determinants of Health, Doctoral, Post-Doctoral, Research Associate, and Senior Academic at the Comparative Program on Health and Society, University of Toronto 2014-15.  Supporting documents must arrive by May 27, 2014.  Call for Applications 2014/2015CPHS website.

Health Law Fellowships at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, USA, 2014-15, working on academic legal research and scholarly projects in health law, beginning Fall 2014, 65K for one year plus benefits, Apply by April 25, 2014.  Overview online here.   O’Neill Application.

3-day intensive course on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Litigation, The Global School on Socioeconomic Rights,  Harvard University  Boston MA, USA,  November 3-5, 2014, Apply by July 1, 2014.  Health Rights Litigation course


Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective:  Cases and Controversies, ed. Rebecca J. Cook, Joanna N. Erdman and Bernard M. Dickens, 16 chapters.  Forthcoming, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.  To receive details when it is published, email reprohealth. law \at/ utoronto. ca with subject “abortion book flyer”.

[abortion] “My Body My Rights,” new Amnesty International campaign – 7-page report

On Abortion: Exploring Psychological Meaning and Attitudes in a Sample of Mexican Gynecologists, Ma. Luisa Marván, Asunción Álvarez del Río and Zaira Campos, Developing World Bioethics 14.1 (April 2014): 29–36.     Abstract or download article.

[abortion – Africa] “Facilitating women’s access to misoprostol through community-based advocacy in Kenya and Tanzania,” by Francine Coeytaux, Leila Hessini, Nondo Ejano, Albert Obbuyi, Monica Oguttu, Joachim Osur, Kristen Shuken, International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 125.1(April 2014): 53-55. Abstract or download article.

[abortion – Ireland] “Human Rights and Abortion Law Reform in Ireland’ IFPA seminar held last December in Dublin Ireland, panel of national and international experts analysed abortion law in Ireland through the lens of equality, criminalisation, human rights and stigma, and explored ways forward to advance Irish abortion law reform.  Speakers included: Dr Ruth Fletcher, Prof. Rebecca Cook, Julie Kay, Lead Counsel in A, B and C v Ireland, Prof. Siobhán Mullally, and Mark Kelly.  Highlights:  9-minute video.

[abortion – Israel] “The effect of a policy change on late termination of pregnancy in Israel,” by Amir Aviram, Ami Fishman, Maya Steinberg, Ido Solt, Rami Aviram, Corresponding author contact information, E-mail the corresponding author.  International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics  Abstract online.

[abortion – Nigeria] “Acceptability and feasibility of medical abortion with mifepristone and misoprostol in Nigeria,” by Friday Okonofua, Oladapo Shittu, Tara Shochet, Ayisha Diop and Beverly Winikoff, International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics 125.1 (April 2014): 49-52.  Abstract or download article.

[abortion – Pakistan]  The Rules for Abortion and Causing Miscarriage: Isqat-i-Haml and Isqat-i-Janin in the Pakistan Penal Code, by Imran Ahsan Nyazee, Islamabad School of Law, 19-page working paper online

[abortion and domestic violence] “Associations between Intimate Partner Violence and Termination of Pregnancy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,”  by Megan Hall, Lucy C. Chappell,  Bethany L. Parnell, Paul T. Seed, and  Susan Bewley,  PLOS Medicine,  January 07, 2014,  DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001581.  Article onlineNewsmedia comment.

[abortion ship] New film about Women on Waves: “Vessel”   “Vessel” film website.

“Abortion, Libertarianism, and Evictionism: A Last Word,” by Jakub Bożydar Wiśniewski, Libertarian Papers 5, 1 (2013). Article online.

“Conscientious objection and refusal to provide reproductive healthcare: A white paper examining prevalence, health consequences, and policy responses,” by Wendy Chavkin, Liddy Leitman, and Kate Polin, for Global Doctors for Choice  69-page paper online.

[conscientious objection] “The Scope of the Conscience-Based Exemption in Section 4(1) of the Abortion Act 1967: Doogan and Wood v NHS Greater Glasgow Health Board [2013] CSIH 36,” by Mary Neal, Medical Law Review doi: 10.1093/medlaw/fwt041 (pre-published online 20 January 2014)  Abstract online.

[Europe – human rights]  Shaping Rights in the ECHR:  The Role of the European Court of Human Rights in Determining the Scope of Human Rights, ed. Eva Brems and Janneke Gerards (Cambridge UP, 2014) pp 137-161.  (Abortion discussed in chapter 7  “Procedural Protection” by Eva Brems.)  Ebook through university librariesTable of Contents.   Book details from Publisher.

[Ireland]  “Refusal of Emergency Caesarean Section in Ireland: A Relational Approach.” by Katherine Wade, Medical Law Review 22.1(Winter 2014): 1-25.   Abstract online.

[Eastern Europe]  “Status of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Central and Eastern Europe (ASTRA)  4-page fact sheet online.

The ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Report – now online (large file)UN Secretary-General’s report.

[maternal mortality]  “Accountability in the Provision of Quality Health Care for Women: Alyne da Silva Pimentel [in Brazil]”, by Mónica Aranga Olaya and Valentina Montoya Robledo, Policy in Focus 27 (March 2014): 8-9.  Issue online, see pages 8-9.

[maternal mortality – Uganda] A Global Social Contract to Reduce Maternal Mortality: The Human Rights Arguments and the Case of Uganda, by Gorik Ooms, Mulumba Moses, Rachel Hammonds, Laila Abdul Latif, Attiya Waris, and Lisa Forman, Reproductive Health Matters, Vol. 21, No. 42, November 2013, pp 129-138. Abstract online.

[stigma] “Reducing stigma in reproductive health,” by Rebecca J. Cook and Bernard M. Dickens, International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics 124.2(February 2014): 134-138.  Abstract and article online.

“Substantive Equality and Reproductive Rights: A Briefing Paper on Aligning Development Goals with Human Rights Obligations,” published by Center for Reproductive Rights, 30-page briefing paper.

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


[abortion – Ireland]  Second woman challenges Ireland’s abortion laws at the UN re fetal abnormality.  Guardian news article.

[abortion – Turkey]Abortion banned in Turkish state hospitals, health group claims.    News report.

[abortion – UK]  Abortion provider BPAS fined £200,000 for data breach.  BPAS did not know that its website was storing the name, address, date of birth and telephone number of people who requested a callback for advice on pregnancy issues. Hacker caught before damage done.  BBC news report.


Regional Director for Europe – based in Geneva, Switzerland, Center for Reproductive Rights. Apply by April 18, 2014.  CRR job details.

Program Associates, Global Development and Population Program, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Menlo Park Calif. USA. Hewlett job details.

Program Officer, Safe Abortion Advocacy, Latin America and Caribbean Countries, International Planned Parenthood Federation.  Job at IPPF-WHR.

Director, Special Projects, Ipas, Chapel Hill, NC, USA, Master’s degree required.  Ipas 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 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.

Misoprostol detection in blood

February 25, 2014

Many thanks to the scientists at Gynuity Health Projects, a research and technical assistance organization, for providing scientific answers to questions about Misoprostol detection in blood, in English, Spanish and Portuguese:

Claims of Detection of Misoprostol in Women Accused of Induced Abortion

Recent efforts to prosecute women for induced abortion have included allegations that misoprostol was found in the woman’s blood. However, such allegations should be viewed skeptically. If a woman induces an abortion with misoprostol, depending on the dose and route, the average time between taking the drug and expelling the fetus is 6-8 hours in the first trimester and 10-20 hours in the second trimester. Suspicion of induced abortion with misoprostol generally occurs well after expulsion, meaning several hours of time have passed since the alleged misoprostol administration. During the intervening hours, the misoprostol is rapidly metabolized, and, depending on the interval between taking the drug and suspicion, it will likely be undetectable in a blood sample. If a claim is made that misoprostol was detected in blood, a few critical questions may help to ascertain if the allegations could be real. For more information on misoprostol detection in blood please follow this link.


Alegatos de presencia de misoprostol en mujeres acusadas de haber recibido un aborto inducido

Esfuerzos recientes para procesar judicialmente a mujeres acusadas de haber recibido un aborto inducido incluyen alegatos de presencia de misoprostol en la sangre de dichas mujeres. Sin embargo, tales declaraciones se deben considerar con escepticismo. En una mujer en la que se induce un aborto con misoprostol el tiempo promedio entre la ingesta del medicamento y la expulsión del feto es de 6 a 8 horas en el primer trimestre y de 10 a 20 horas en el segundo trimestre, dependiendo de la dosis y de la vía de administración.  Generalmente aparece la sospecha de que se indujo un aborto con misoprostol bastante tiempo después de la expulsión, es decir, varias horas después de la supuesta administración del fármaco. Durante las horas de intervención, el misoprostol se metaboliza rápidamente y según el tiempo transcurrido entre la toma del medicamento y la aparición de la sospecha, probablemente ya no será detectable en una muestra de sangre. De existir alegatos de detección de misoprostol en la sangre, se pueden formular unas cuantas preguntas cruciales para ayudar a determinar la veracidad de los mismos. Para obtener mayor información sobre la detección de misoprostol en la sangre, favor de utilizar la siguiente liga.


Alegações de detecção de misoprostol em mulheres acusadas de aborto induzido

Os recentes esforços para processar mulheres por aborto induzido têm incluído afirmações de que foi encontrado misoprostol no sangue da mulher. No entanto, tais alegações devem ser vistas com ceticismo. Se uma mulher induz um aborto com misoprostol, dependendo da dose e da via, o tempo médio entre a ingestão do fármaco e a expulsão do feto é de 6-8 horas no primeiro trimestre e 10-20 horas, no segundo trimestre. A suspeita de aborto induzido com misoprostol geralmente ocorre bem depois da expulsão, ou seja, várias horas após a administração do misoprostol. Durante esse intervalo de tempo o misoprostol é metabolizado rapidamente, e, dependendo do tempo transcorrido  entre a ingestão do fármaco e a suspeita, ele seguramente será indetectável em uma amostra de sangue. Se for feita uma alegação de que o misoprostol foi detectado no sangue, algumas questões críticas podem ajudar a determinar se essa alegação tem fundamento. Para mais informações sobre a detecção de misoprostol no sangue, por favor, acesse o site.

Decisions, Calls, Education, Resources & News

March 7, 2013

March 7, 2013


Costa Rica IVF assisted reproduction decision – now summarized in Spanish by Mónica Arango, Alejandra Cárdenas & María Laura Rojas on the Gender & Law blog from Los Andes University:
Spanish summary       English details from previous blog

Spain: Dr Carlos Morin and his abortion clinic staff absolved of all charges Comments on trial in English.
Decision online in Spanish
News coverage in Spanish


Gender Justice Uncovered Awards from Women’s Link Worldwide
Contribute to the Gender Justice Observatory:
Nominate the Best and Worst recent cases that (best) promote gender equality or (worst) perpetuate sexism.    English    Spanish

Calls for Nominations: Darroch Award for Excellence in Sexual and Reproductive Health Research presented by the Guttmacher Institute.  Nomination deadline: Friday, May 17, 2013.  Award details


Vienna Master of Arts in Human Rights – apply by 14 April 2013.  application information


“Abortion, motherhood and the medical profession,” U.K. conference, organised jointly by BPAS and RSM. London, England  Wed, 12 June 2013.    Includes session on “Information, Counselling and the Law,” with law professor Sally Sheldon.   Conference details.


[abortion, Asia]   “Poverty, Food Security, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights: Integrating and Reinforcing State Responsibilities, Integrating Societal Action” by Dr. Shobha Raghuram et al,  ARROW research report, 2012,  includes abortion   102-page research report

[abortion, Caribbean]: “Women’s Reproductive Health and Rights in Select Caribbean Countries (focuses on Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana), by Taitu Heron &  Shakira Maxwell in  Social Economic Studies (Social Sciences Journal of the University of the West Indies) , special issue, 61.3 (September 2012) includes articles on Unsafe Abortion, advocacy and law reform (Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago), Abortion laws and implementation (Guyana and Barbados).   Abstract only at SSRN.

[abortion]: Legal Abortion Levels and Trends by Woman’s Age at Termination, Gilda Sedgh,  Akinrinola Bankole, Susheela Singh and Michelle Eilers,  forthcoming in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2013   Early view online

 [abortion, Canada]:  25th Anniversary of Supreme Court judgment R. v. Morgentaler 1988, which depenalized abortion in Canada , panel of key players held at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, Jan 28, 2013.  Written summary    14-minute CBC radio excerpt

[abortion, Ireland]:  “Reviewing Ireland’s Abortion Regime,” by Eoin Carolan, University College Dublin – School of Law.  Article online

[abortion, Ireland]   UN Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, Addendum re Mission to Ireland (19-23 Nov, 2012)  A/HRC/22/47/Add.3, discusses impact of Ireland’s restrictive abortion law (paras 79-87, 111) on reproductive healthcare providers, advocates, access to information, and calls Ireland to publicly recognize sexual and repro rights defenders as human rights defenders.  UN HR Mission to Ireland report

[abortion, Mexico City]  “Feminismo, religión y democracia en el proceso de legalización del aborto en la Ciudad de México” (Feminism, Religion and Democracy in the Process of Abortion Legalization in Mexico City) by Alba Ruibal. Estudios, No. 27, pp. 13-26, January-June 2012. 
See English abstract,  or download paper in Spanish.

[abortion, South Africa] “Termination-of-Pregnancy Rights and Foetal Interests in Continued Existence in South Africa: The Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act 92 of 1996,” by Camilla Pickles. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 15.5 , 2012.  
Abstract and article .  

[abortion, guidance from WHO]   “Updated WHO Guidance on Safe Abortion: Health and Human Rights,”  by Joanna N. Erdman, Teresa DePiñeres & Eszter Kismodi, International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 120 (Feb 2013): 200-203. Abstract and Article

[abortion rights & embryonic research] “Legislating Respect: A Pro-Choice Feminist Analysis of Embryo Research Restrictions in Canada,” by Maneesha Deckha,  compares feminist articulations re right to abortion (bodily integrity and equality) with feminist arguments against the expansive use of embryos in research (commodification and exploitation).  McGill Law Journal 58.1 (2012): 199.   Abstract only.

[misoprostol] WHO recommendations for misoprostol use for obstetric and gynecologic indications,  by Jennifer Tang, Nathalie Kapp, Monica Dragoman, Joao Paulo de Souza  forthcoming, International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics   proofs online

Misoprostol in women’s hands: a harm reduction strategy for unsafe abortion by Alyson Hyman, Kelly Blanchard, Francine Coeytaux, Daniel Grossman, Alexandra Teixeira, in Contraception 87.2 (February 2013): 128-130.   Article online.   

Reproductive rights and the State:  Getting the Birth Control, RU 486, and Morning-After pills and the Gardasil Vaccine to the US Market, by Melissa Haussman (Praeger, 2013).  New book information online


Belarus:  Government restricts exceptions allowing abortion between 12 and 22 weeks to rape victims and women “deprived of paternal rights.”  They removed eight other “social” exceptions previously allowed, including divorce or death of the husband during the pregnancy, unemployment, or already having three or more children.  Abortion continues to be unrestricted in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy and throughout pregnancy for medical indications.
News article in Cyrillic text.   

Canada: PEI – the only Canadian province with no abortion services, but one doctor is providing medical (chemical) abortions.  News article.

German bishops agree that Catholic hospitals can prescribe emergency contraception to rape victims.  News article.

Philippines:  Bishops protest in vain against Reproductive Health Bill, which expands contraceptive access.   Blog article.

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

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.

Sri Lanka: misoprostol v unsafe abortion

January 6, 2012

Many thanks to Ramya Kumar, a doctoral student at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, for submitting this abstract of her M.Sc. thesis in Public Health from Harvard University.  The author can be reached at:  ramya.kumar_AT_mail.#utoronto.ca


by Ramya Kumar M.Sc. thesis, Harvard University, 2011.

Abstract:  Addressing unsafe abortion has been a contentious issue globally. Sri Lanka has made impressive achievements on the 5th Millennium Development Goal (Improving Maternal Health) with a maternal mortality rate of 39 deaths per 100,000 live births. But unsafe abortion remains unaddressed even when it is a leading cause of maternal mortality in the country. Abortion laws are restrictive and safe abortion services are not provided through the public health system. Misoprostol, a drug with many obstetric uses (including medical abortion) is as yet unregistered. A recent attempt to register misoprostol ended controversially when registration was stalled at the National Drug Regulatory Authority despite a recommendation to register the drug from the professional body of obstetricians and gynaecologists in the country. This study attempts to identify policy-level barriers to addressing unsafe abortion in Sri Lanka broadly and considers the recent policy decision on misoprostol specifically.      Fourteen key informants were interviewed; 10 physicians involved in health policymaking and 4 women’s rights advocates with expertise in law and the social sciences. Data was analyzed using qualitative methods.
The results suggest that the Ministry of Health in Sri Lanka has failed to prioritize addressing unsafe abortion even within the existing legal framework. The barriers identified appear to be similar to those operating at a global level. The resistance to abortion law reform, the position of the medical establishment vis-à-vis misoprostol and the absence of endorsement by the Ministry of Health to addressing the issue of unsafe abortion appear to be supported by patriarchy, religious conservatism and nationalism. The inaccessibility of safe abortion services has grave implications on women’s health and rights. The policy decision on misoprostol exemplifies an undemocratic policymaking process; a rights-based approach is explored as a potential solution to addressing unsafe abortion.

For further information on “Misoprostol and Women’s Health in Sri Lanka,” see this newspaper article by Ramya Kumar, based on her presentation at the International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Colombo, Sri Lanka, on July 13, 2011: Online here

Kyrgyzstan: misoprostol access under CEDAW to prevent maternal deaths from haemorrhage

November 10, 2011

Congratulations to Gulnaz Naamatova, our most recent International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Scholar, who successfully completed her LL.M. thesis under the supervision of Professor Rebecca Cook.  She has since returned to Bishkek, Kygyzstan, where she now teaches courses in legal theory and human rights at the law school of the American University in Central Asia, where she is also a director of the Legal Clinic. 

Promotion of the availability and accessibility of misoprostol under the CEDAW: Postpartum haemorrhage among the rural women of the Kyrgyz Republic

by Gulnaz Naamatova, LL.M. Thesis, 2011, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, Canada

Maternal mortality in Kyrgyzstan is a discrimination of women not only based on sex, but also on rural/urban setting. Rural women are most likely to die of haemorrhage than urban women in Kyrgyzstan. Postpartum haemorrhage constitutes 45 per cent of all maternal deaths in Kyrgyzstan. This work concentrates on the obligations of Kyrgyzstan under articles 12 and 14.b of the Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The work analyses the nature and scope of state obligations under respective articles. Kyrgyzstan has obligations to respect, protect and fulfill rural women�s human rights to address discriminations against rural women, provide appropriate health services and ensure availability and accessibility of misoprostol to rural women. Misoprostol is more suitable to the conditions of rural area than traditionally used oxytocin. Therefore, the availability and accessibility of rural women to misoprostol will prevent avoidable maternal deaths in haemorrhage.  

Key words: CEDAW, articles 12 (Health) and 14 (rural women), postpartum haemorrhage, Misoprostol, Kyrgyz Republic