Abortion by Telemedicine in Northern Ireland: Patient and Professional Rights Across Borders

March 30, 2018

Congratulations to Professors Tamara K. Hervey of the University of Sheffield’s Faculty of Law, and Sally Sheldon of Kent Law School, whose insightful article was recently published in the Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly.  We thank them for putting their submitted text online, with the publisher’s permission: .

Tamara K. Hervey and Sally Sheldon, “Abortion by Telemedicine in Northern Ireland: Patient and Professional Rights Across Borders,” (2017) 68(1) NILQ 1-33.  Article in NILQ.       Submitted Text online at SSRN.


The uneasy legal and political settlement regarding abortion in Northern Ireland has long relied on the outsourcing of aspects of reproductive health care. While local health services offer only highly restricted access to termination procedures, women travel to access abortion services elsewhere. However, technological changes, in particular the development of abortifacient medicines, are revolutionising this aspect of reproductive healthcare. Rather than women having to travel to a service, today that service can travel to women through the postal supply of abortion pills, sourced via the internet. While online supply of pharmaceuticals can pose potential public health risks, at least two groups offer safe and effective telemedical services to women in Northern Ireland. Women on Web and Women Help Women each supply abortion pills, under prescription from a doctor based in another country, to women who wish to end a pregnancy of nine weeks or less. Here, we consider the extent to which the telemedical abortion services that they offer are protected by transnational law, in particular, EU provisions on cross-border services. This offers new and hitherto unexplored lines of legal argument (including defences against criminal prosecution and challenges to a state’s attempts to restrict the flow of services). Through claiming the autonomy-based legal relationships implicit in transnational law and the power that flows therefrom, we suggest, women may challenge regulatory arrangements which seek to limit their reproductive rights.

For full text, see:   Article in NILQ.       Submitted Text online at SSRN.

REPROHEALTHLAW Updates – June 2017

June 29, 2017

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[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.


[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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


“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.


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


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.


November 10, 2011

November 10, 2011


ECtHR: Case of S.H. and Others v. Austria [sperm/ova donation] application no. 57713/00, European Court of Human Rights- Grand Chamber, final judgment 3 November 2011 Austrian ban on sperm/ova donation does not violate European Convention on Human Rights.  Press release   Judgment

ECtHR: VC v Slovakia (forced sterilization- Roma) Slovakia was found in violation of inhumane and degrading treatment and the right to private life for the coerced sterilization of a Roma woman.
Press Release    Judgment   Further reading:  CRR Report: Body and Soul: Forced sterilization and other assaults on Roma reproductive freedom.
European Court of Justice bans patents on embryonic stem cells. News article

UN – CEDAW – LC v. Peru decision [abortion in case of rape]:   Peru must relax restrictions on abortion.  Decision forthcoming online.   CRR press release


Call for abstracts on Reproductive Health History (any aspect), Canadian Society for the History of Medicine Annual Meeting, University of Waterloo, Ontario,  250-300 word abstract and 1-page CV due Nov. 30, 2011. More info

Call for volunteers, Resisting & Challenging Religious Fundamentalisms initiative at AWID. More info

Call for papers: Women, the Charter, and CEDAW in the 21st Century: Taking Stock and Moving Forward.  Queen’s University Feminist Legal Studies   March 2-4, 2012, Kingston Ont., Canada.   More info

Reproducing Normality: Disability, prenatal testing and bioethics Workshop, University of Sydney, Australia, Wed. Dec 7, 2011  Event info


“Global Health Law and Governance”  Summer Program at Georgetown Law School, June 18-22, 2012,  Washington DC.  USA.  More info

“Health Rights Litigation” course, Global School on Judicial Enforcement of Economic, Social, and Cultural (ESC) Rights, offered by The Health Rights of Women and Children Program at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University, June 18-22 2012 in Boston, MA, USA  Save the dates.


Calls for Proposals re funding re sexual/repro health/rights projects offered by the European Union.  E-nEUs  Oct 28th edition now online here.

Postdoctoral fellowships Women & Gender Studies, 2012-2014  Rice University.  More info


[abortion, Brazil]  Negative Impacts of Abortion Criminalization in Brazil: Systematic Denial of Women’s Reproductive Autonomy and Human Rights, by Maria Beatriz Galli Bevilacqua, University of Miami Law Review 2011, 65: 969.  article

[abortion, counseling, informed consent] Abortion and Informed Consent: How Biased Counseling Laws Mandate Violations of Medical Ethics, by Ian Vandewalker, forthcoming in Michigan Journal of Gender & Law. article

[abortion, counseling, informed consent] Abortion Counselling and the Informed Consent Dilemma, by Scott Woodcock in Bioethics 25.9 (Nov 2011), pp 495-504 article

[abortion, counseling, informed consent] Sawicki, Nadia N., The Abortion Informed Consent Debate: More Light, Less Heat by Nadia N. Sawicki. Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 21, p. 1, 2011. article
[abortion, Mexico] Abortion Legalization in Mexico City – 7 articles in special section in Studies in Family Planning, 42.3 (Sept 2011). table of contents with links

[abortion, Morocco] Government plans to legalize abortion in cases of rape or incest, currently allowed to save mother’s life. News article

[abortion, telemedicine] Effectiveness and Acceptability of Medical Abortion Provided Through Telemedicine, D. Grossman et al.,  Obstetrics & Gynecology 18.2, pt 1, Aug 2011, pp 296-303. article

[abortion] Russia’s parliament adopted a law limiting abortions but rejected tougher restrictions backed by the country’s conservative Orthodox Church.  news article

[abortion] The Criminalization of Abortion is an Abuse of State Power, by Meghan Doherty, Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD), October 25, 2011 – RH Reality Check blog
[abortion] The World’s Abortion Laws  poster and new interactive format here.

[abortion] Amicus curiae brief to tje Mexican Supreme Court, 2009 written comments by the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Programme, Faculty of Law, Univesity of Toronto, re unconstitutionality claim for Article 7 amendment by the state of Baja California, contends that the Right to Life, as protected under Article 4(1) of the American Convention on Human Rights, permits legal abortion.  Now online in English and Spanish.

[access to medicines, patents] Intellectual Property and Public Health: Two Sides of the Same Coin by Yahong Li,  AJWH, Vol. 6, No. 389, 2011; article.

[anti-abortion] “San Jose articles” against abortion being promoted by celebrity signatories. Online here.
—Critique by Global Rights Watch, PPFA, online here.

[Argentina]  Women’s Rights at the Argentine Supreme Court: Innovative Non-Jurisdictional Offices for Women and a Conservative Jurisprudence on Reproductive Rights, by Alba Ruibal working paper

ASEAN: Making the fair choice: Key steps to improve maternal health in ASEAN, based on case studies in Indonesia and the Philippines. 13 page Amnesty International report, download here

[assisted repro]  Synthetic Cells, Synthetic Life, and Inheritance by Kristine S. Knaplund, Valparaiso University Law Review, Vol. 45, 2011.  article

[assisted repro, cross-border]  Assisted Reproduction on Treacherous Terrain: The Legal Hazards of Cross-Border Reproductive Travel, by Richard F. Storrow, Reproductive Biomedicine Online, Vol. 23, pp. 538-545, 2011.  article.

[assisted repro]  “Legislation for assisted reproductive technologies,” by Bernard Dickens,  in Joseph G. Schenker, ed.  Ethical Dilemmas in Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Germany: De Gruyter,  2011)  15-28.  Book info

[assisted repro] Capacity and Autonomy: A Thought Experiment on Minors’ Access to Assisted Reproductive Technology by Michele Goodwin & Naomi Duke, Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, Vol. 34, 2011. article

[assisted repro]  Psycho-Social, Ethical and Legal Arguments for and Against the Retrospective Release of Information About Donors to Donor-Conceived Individuals in Australia, by Sonia Allan, Journal of Law and Medicine, Vol. 19, No. 2, 2011.  article
Austria – Court of Appeal confirms fines for 4 anti-choice activists who bullied abortion doctor. Article in German

[contraception, Africa] Access to Contraception for Adolescents in Africa: A Human Rights Challenge, by Ebenezer Tope Durojaye, Comparative International Law Journal of Southern Africa, Vol. 44, No. 1, pp. 1-29, 2011. article

[consent, pregnant women] Recalcitrant Vessels: In Search of the Justifications for Compelled Medical Care of Pregnant Women (December 20, 2010)  by Carolyn Anne McConnell working paper

[emergency contraception (EC)]  How Do Emergency Contraceptive Pills Work to Prevent Pregnancy?  Mechanism of Action –  3 page explanation endorsed by FIGO and ICEC, in EnglishSpanishFrenchGermanPortuguese
Access to fact sheets and related policy papers here.
[EC, Hungary] No over-the-counter emergency contraception for Hungary. news article

Emergency Contraception: Catholics in Favor, Bishops Opposed (ICEC/CFC)  (8 page fact sheet) English & Spanish

[gender equality] Is the Right to Health a Necessary Precondition for Gender Equality? By Hilary Hammell,  New York University Review of Law & Social Change, Vol. 35, No. 1, 2011.  article

[gender equality] Gender Justice and CEDAW: The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, by Sally Engle Merry,  Journal of Women of the Middle East and the Islamic World 9 (2011) 49-75, not online.

[HIV, Canada] Criminalization of Non-Disclosure of HIV Status to Sexual Partners, special section in McGill Journal of Law and Health 5.1 (Sept 2011), table of contents  links to:
— HIV/AIDS Introduction, by David Parry
— Prosecution of Non-Disclosure of HIV in Canada: Time to Rethink Cuerrier, by Isabel Grant
— Criminalization of the Intended Transmission or Knowing Non-Disclosure of HIV in Canada by Matthew Cornell

[HIV, family planning] What does family planning have to do with HIV? 2 page fact sheet

[HIV, India]  Rights of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS and Article 21 of the Indian Constitution by Sameer Boray, working paper

[HIV, patents]   Driving a decade of change: HIV/AIDS, patents and access to medicines for all [including low income countries.  Discusses “patent pools” among other tools.  by Ellen ‘t Hoen, Jonathan Berger, Alexandra Calmy and Suerie Moon. Journal of the International AIDS Society 2-11. 14:15  article

[HIV, patents] The Global Governance of HIV/AIDS and the Rugged Road Ahead: An Epilogue, by Peter K. Yu.  In: The Global Governance of HIV/ AIDS: Intellectual Property and access to essential medicines, by Obijiofor Aginam, et al, eds., Edward Elgar Publishing, 2012. article

[HIV, Uganda] Proposed HIV And AIDS Legislation Is A Setback To The Fight Against The Pandemic In Uganda.  AWID analysis

Ireland – contraception for adolescents – ambiguous laws  news article

Marriage as Punishment [for seduction. Historical analysis of state regulation of sex and sexuality] by Melissa E. Murray. Columbia Law Review, Vol. 100, No. 2, 2012. article.

[MSM] Sex in Your city (IPPF, 36 page report)   MSM case studies re Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul & Busan.  Survey results and gaps re sexual health.  IPPF report

[patents, stem cell] The European Court of Justice bans stem cell patents. news article

[rape of child- fatal]  “Idowu: The Nigerian Supreme Court Erred!”  by Chinua Asuzu.  working paper.

Reproductive Health and Human Rights: Integrating Medicine, Ethics and Law – book by R. Cook, B Dickens & M. Fathalla (Oxford University Press, 2003).  Full text now available online, to institutional subscribers only:  link

The Right to Health in International Law [book], by John Tobin, Oxford University Press, 2011; U of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No. 562. Introduction

[rights-based] UN OHCHR  Report on Good and Effective Practices in Using a Human Rights Based Approach to preventable Maternal Mortality & Morbidity [following up on UN HRC second resolution.] Report.

[sex work & trafficking laws, Spain] Iglesias Skulj, Agustina, El Control Penal De Las Trabajadoras Del Sexo En El Ambito De Las Politicas Contra La Trata De Mujeres Con Fines De Explotaci�n Sexual (El Caso Espanol) (Law Enforcement and Control of Sex Workers in the Field of Policies Against Trafficking in Women for Sexual Exploitation (Special Reference to Spanish Criminal Policy))  by Agustina Iglesias Skulj. Derecho Penal y Criminologia, 32(2011)  92.  article in Spanish

[sex work, Canada] Sex Work By Law: Bedford’s Impact on the Municipal Regulation of the Sex Trade , by Elaine Craig, Review of Constitutional Studies, Vol. 16, No. 1, 2011. article

[sex work, Canada] Why anti-john laws don’t work [ineffective in Sweden], by Lisa Kelly & Katrina Pacey newspaper op-ed

[sex work, UK, London] Most migrant sex workers are not forced to sell sex, ESRC study by Dr. Nick Mai, London Metropolitan University press release

[sterilization] Conceptualising Involuntary Sterilisation as “Severe Pain or Suffering” for the Purposes of Torture Disclosure, by Ronli Sifris (2010). 28 Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights 523 article

[surrogacy, Australia]  The New Surrogacy Parentage Laws in Australia: Cautious Regulation or “25 Brick Walls”  by Jenni Millbank, Melbourne University Law Review, 35.1 (2011) article

[surrogacy] A Tale of Many Cities: Using Bioethics to Deconstruct Baby Stories from the Wild World of Commercial Surrogacy, by Seema Mohapatra,  Berkeley Journal of International Law (BJIL) article

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Compiled by the Coordinator of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Programme,
For Programme publications and resources, see our website.