Spain: “Gender in Constitutional Discourses on Abortion,” by Blanca Rodríguez-Ruiz

June 29, 2017

Congratulations and thanks to Professor Blanca Rodríguez-Ruiz,  who teaches constitutional law at the University of Seville in Spain, for her useful article, recently published in the international journal, Social & Legal Studies:

Blanca Rodríguez-Ruiz, “Gender in Constitutional Discourses on Abortion: Looking at Spain from a Comparative Perspective,” Social & Legal Studies 25.6 (Dec. 2016): 699-715.
PDF     Download text      Author publications – English and Spanish

Abstract:   In as far as the regulation of abortion deals with issues like how and to what extent can women’s capacity to gestate and give birth be controlled, and by whom, any discourse on abortion necessarily reflects a construction of women’s citizenship, hence of gender.  The question is, which is the ruling construction? Behind non-legal discourses that focus on human life and public power’s duty to protect it, there lies the modern construction of gender that articulates women’s passive citizenship within the state.  This is also true of confrontational discourses that construct women and the foetus as potential adversaries. Both discourses are traditional in continental Europe.  Yet, they are being superseded by an understanding of abortion from the perspective of women’s active citizenship. Spanish Organic Act 2/2010 stands as part of this trend.  Not surprisingly, governmental attempts to reinstate women’s passive citizenship in this matter have met stark resistance.   PDF.     Download text.

Source:  “Regulating Abortion: Dissensus and the Politics of Rights,” ed. Siobhan Mullally,  symposium issue of Social & Legal Studies: An International Journal 25.6 (Dec 2016)       Introduction, pp. 645-650.

See also:
Catherine O’Rourke, “Advocating Abortion Rights in Northern Ireland: Local and Global Tensions,” Social and Legal Studies 25(6): 716-740.  PDF and abstract       Submitted text

Claire Murray, “The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013: Suicide, Dignity and the Irish Discourse on Abortion“, published in Social and Legal Studies 2016,  25(6): 667-698     PDF and abstract     Accepted text.

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Catholic Constitutionalism on Sex, Women, and the Beginning of Life

November 5, 2015


Julieta Lemaitre,Catholic Constitutionalism on Sex, Women, and the Beginning of Life,” Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies ed. Rebecca J. Cook, Joanna N. Erdman, and Bernard M. Dickens (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014) pp 239-257, notes pp. 430-434. A Spanish edition was published in August, 2016.  Ahora disponible en español.

The 1994 U.N. International Conference on Population and Development at Cairo set off a conservative Catholic backlash against feminist ideas on sexuality and reproduction. Catholic lawyers, inspired by Vatican instructions, vigorously argued in constitutional settings across the Americas against the liberalization of abortion laws, same-sex marriage, and embryonic cell research. While some explicitly referenced scripture and religious authorities in their advocacy, many abandoned such references in favor of legal claims based on reason alone. This latter strategy marked a profound shift for the conservative Catholic opposition to sexual and reproductive rights.

In this eleventh chapter of Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies (U Penn Press, 2014) , Julieta Lemaitre explores this emergence of Catholic constitutionalism in abortion law; that is, the recent advancement of Catholic theological reasoning through the secular discourse of human rights.  Tracing the theological roots of these arguments, and engaging with them on their own merits, she elaborates core Catholic constitutional arguments about the legal regulation of abortion and explores the useful effects of this engagement in exposing the moral order implicit in liberal convictions and its shortcomings, and in building bridges with Catholic concerns for social justice.

Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies was published in August 2014 by the University of Pennsylvania Press’s Studies in Human Rights Series.   Table of Contents and other information online. A Spanish edition was published in August, 2016.  Ahora disponible en español.