Monday, February 10, 2020
Rebecca Cook and Joanna Erdman's co-authored article was recently published in a special issue of Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology. The abstract follows.
Joanna N. Erdman and Rebecca J. Cook, "Decriminalization of abortion – A human rights imperative," Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology 62 (Jan. 2020): 11-24.
Decriminalization of abortion is the removal of abortion from the criminal law. This chapter reviews the evolving consensus in international human rights law, first supporting the liberalization of criminal abortion laws to improve access to care and now supporting their repeal or decriminalization as a human rights imperative to protect the health, equality, and dignity of people. This consensus is based on human rights standards or the authoritative interpretations of U.N. and regional human rights treaties in general comments and recommendations, individual communications and inquiry reports of treaty monitoring bodies, and in the thematic reports of special rapporteurs and working groups of the U.N. and regional human rights systems. This chapter explores the reach and influence of human rights standards, especially how high courts in many countries reference these standards to hold governments accountable for the reform and repeal of criminal abortion laws.
Human rights require:
--- the withdrawal of punitive abortion measures,
--- access to abortion, at least on grounds of life, health, sexual crime, and fetal impairment,
--- timely access to information about the pregnancy and grounds for its possible termination, written reasons for denials, and review mechanisms for denials, and
--- that abortion services be available to all, irrespective of their specific circumstance.