International law and the provision of abortion services

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International law and the provision of abortion services

Kirsten Sjøvoll considers whether the Supreme Court's approach to international law as an aid to interpretation of the ECHR is out of step with Strasbourg, and where this leaves international law as an interpretative aid generally

By Kirsten Sjovoll · On July 28, 2017

In R (A & B) v Secretary of State for Health [2017] UKSC 41 the Supreme Court considered whether the Secretary of State’s failure to exercise his power to require that abortion services be provided through the NHS in England – to women ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland – was unlawful. The question was whether he failed to discharge his duty under the National Health Service Act 2006, s 3 to “take such steps as he considers necessary to meet all reasonable requirements” for services. It also considered whether the continuing failure to provide such abortion services infringed the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR” of “the Convention”), art 14 in conjunction with 8. In particular, the Supreme Court considered to what extent these rights under the ECHR should be informed by other obligations and principles of international law.

Continued at source: Law of Nations Blog: https://lawofnationsblog.com/2017/07/28/international-law-provision-abortion-services/

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Ireland: Cautious welcome for new Taoiseach’s 2018 Repeal referendum

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Cautious welcome for new Taoiseach’s 2018 Repeal referendum

June 16, 2017
Referendum on the 8th Amendment could be a step forward for Ireland

Speaking today in response to the announcement of a referendum to take place in 2018, Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) spokesperson Linda Kavanagh said, “We’d obviously welcome it, however we reserve judgement until the wording of the referendum is revealed. We fear that it will offer only very limited abortion access and repeat the failures of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act. We need broad-based legislation so that real and realistic access is given, otherwise thousands will still travel or break the law by importing and taking abortion pills.”

Continued at source: Abortion Rights Campaign: https://www.abortionrightscampaign.ie/2017/06/16/cautious-welcome-for-new-taoiseachs-2018-repeal-referendum/

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What evangelical policy means for women worldwide

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What evangelical policy means for women worldwide
May 17, 2017

By Molly Hanson
Editorial Writer
Freedom From Religion Foundation

Earlier this year, President Trump ― circled by a half-dozen men in the Oval Office ― signed an executive order restricting the autonomy of women across the globe. The order, signed back in January, froze foreign aid or federal funding for international health organizations that provide abortions. The administration has just announced that it will be expanding this Global Gag Rule, calling it “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance.” Sounds virtuous, right?

Here is the description of the new policy that a White House official gave to “The Brody File” on Christian Broadcasting Network News:

“The pro-life policy will apply to global health assistance funding for international health programs, such as those for HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, malaria, global health security, and family planning and reproductive health.”

Christian broadcaster David Brody called the policy, “yet another evangelical victory under this administration.”

Continued at source: Freedom from Religion Foundation: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/freethoughtnow/evangelical-foreign-healthcare-policy-means-women/

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On World Day of Social Justice, why is access to safe abortion a social justice issue?

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On World Day of Social Justice, why is access to safe abortion a social justice issue?
by Safe Abortion
Feb 19, 2017

A socially just society is one where human rights are manifest and in which opportunities, wealth and privilege are equally distributed. The United Nations World Day of Social Justice site says that social justice struggles are those that “remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.”

Abortion is a social justice issue in that criminalising, restricting or stigmatising abortion creates barriers that women with unwanted pregnancies face in exercising body autonomy. Often these barriers are even greater for women of colour, young  women and poor women.

Specifically, the human rights outlined in Articles 3,4, and 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are denied or violated when access to safe abortion is restricted.

Article 3, “Right to life, liberty and security of person”, is denied to women whose pregnancies present a serious risk to their lives in countries where abortion is illegal with no exceptions. These include El Salvador, Malta, Vatican, Chile, Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua. Even in countries where abortion is allowed under limited conditions, women’s lives, liberty and security are often placed at risk because the restrictions mean that few legal abortions are in fact provided. Criminalising abortion does not decrease the incidence of abortion; instead, it increases the incidence of unsafe abortion as women are forced to seek services that are extra-legal and may be unsafe. Restrictions on abortion almost always affect poor and young women disproportionately as wealthier women can afford to pay  for safe care.

Article 4 says, “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude”. Forcing women to continue pregnancies that they do not want, have children and become mothers is a form of forced labour. The day that was chosen as the international day of action for the decriminalisation of abortion in 1990, 28 September, was historically the Day of the Free Womb, the day on which the children born to slave mothers in Brazil were freed in 1871. The decriminalisation of abortion is still called for every year on 28 September,  as International Safe Abortion Day. While most women do have children at some moment in their lives, it must be up to the individual  to decide whether, when and how many children to have. To force women to have children they do not wish to have is a form of slavery.

Finally denial of access to abortion goes against Article 5, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” The Report of Juan Méndez, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, presented to the Human Rights Council’s 31st session in 2016, included the following:

Where access to abortion is restricted by law, maternal mortality increases as women are forced to undergo clandestine abortions in unsafe and unhygienic conditions. Short- and long-term physical and psychological consequences also arise due to unsafe abortions and when women are forced to carry pregnancies to term against their will (A/66/254). Such restrictive policies disproportionately impact marginalized and disadvantaged women and girls. Highly restrictive abortion laws that prohibit abortions even in cases of incest, rape or fetal impairment or to safeguard the life or health of the woman violate women’s right to be free from torture and ill-treatment (A/HRC/22/53, CEDAW/C/OP.8/PHL/1). 

The denial of safe, legal abortion is denial of human rights. This is why access to abortion is a social justice issue. Every woman with an unwanted pregnancy should have the right to a safe abortion, without discrimination, barriers or restrictions.

Image credit: © Andrea Pippins

To create this piece, Andrea Pippins was inspired by the Tuskuteesh movement and their efforts to break the silence surrounding all kinds of sexual violence against Arab women. Source: AWID

Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/blog/world-social-justice-day/

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Trump Vs International Abortion

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Trump Vs International Abortion
Feb 7, 2017

Heather Jeffrey, Lecturer in Tourism Studies at the University of Bedfordshire

Donald Trump has been in office for but two weeks and already he is dramatically changing the face of the World as we know it. One of Trump’s first actions was to reinstate the global gag rule, a rule initially devised in 1984 by Ronald Reagan. When initiating this, Reagan drew heavily on the morality of US citizens, suggesting the rule was about removing financial support for abortions around the world. Similarly, the conversation about the gag rule has mostly focused around the subject of abortion. Yet, what the gag rule actually does is reduce funding for organisations that educate and counsel on a whole range of issues, including family planning, maternal health, HIV prevention and testing, contraception and sex education for young people.

In order to better understand how this might affect women in the countries that may see a dramatic reduction in financial aid supporting family planning, I interviewed Dr Bianca Stumbitz, who has extensive experience researching issues related to maternity protection including in both Ghana and Malaysia. Bianca draws primarily on her experiences in Ghana, working on an ILO funded study concerning maternity protection in the workplace, looking especially at informal workers in impoverished areas, where access to health care is a key challenge.

Continued at source: Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/heather-jeffrey/trump-v-international-abo_b_14630600.html

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Ireland: Citizens’ Assembly Submission (a woman’s abortion story)

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Posted on December 16, 2016 by feministire

There are over 4,500 submissions to the Citizens’ Assembly. I am worried my story, my voice will be lost in the mass. I want to be heard; I want to be valued. I want to #repealthe8th

I am writing to tell you my story as an Irish woman living in Ireland who needed an abortion. I would like to attach my name to this as I am not ashamed; however I am now a mother to 2 small daughters and I cannot afford the risk to my family of the potential jail sentence for having needed an abortion in Ireland using the abortion pill.

It was 2010. I was 26 and studying for my Masters. I’d gone back to college when the recession hit to reskill. I was in a quite new relationship with a man I’d known for some time and had been seeing off and on for a while, and finally both of us were living in the same place and we began going out seriously. He was working in a call centre. Those jobs have no security and don’t pay well. He worked with a man who was fired for being less than 5 minutes late 3 times in 2 months – at the start of those 2 months he’d just become a father.

[continued at link]
Source: Feminist Ire

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U.S.: Today Marks the 16th Anniversary of the Abortion Pill and International Safe Abortion Day

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09/29/2016 05:20 pm ET
Melissa S. Grant, carafem, Vice President

The significance of September 28th for women’s reproductive rights is huge. It marks not only the 16th anniversary of the abortion pill in the U.S. but also International Safe Abortion Day. Coincidence?

The 28th day of September was declared an international day of action for the decriminalization of abortion in 1990 by the women’s health movement and has been recognized annually ever since. Launched in Latin America and the Caribbean, regional activists have been organizing in support of safe abortion on this date for the past 26 years.

[continued at link]
Source: Huffington Post

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Mozambique: Changing the Conversation around Abortion

Pathfinder mentors in Mozambique. http://www.pathfinder.org/blog/changing-the-conversation.html

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By Katy Mimno September 28, 2016, Pathfinder International

It’s not always easy to be an abortion provider and a champion for women at a time when laws and cultural norms—here in the United States and around the world—prevent women from accessing comprehensive reproductive health care including abortion and post-abortion care.

Even where abortion is legal, stigma can drive women away from trained providers…forcing them to resort to drastic measures like drinking bleach or putting their trust in untrained providers who lack appropriate equipment. The consequences are dire.

As hard as it is for me to watch the slow pace of change, I continue to work on these issues on behalf of millions of women around the world who deserve better.

[continued at link]
Source: Pathfinder International

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Australia: Abortion Should Be Decriminalised

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Published August 29, 2016 | By Julian Savulescu

Abortion remains a crime in Queensland and NSW in Australia. Queensland Parliament has just decided against decriminalising abortion. However, laws are obsolete and unclear, dating back over 100 years. Around 100,000 abortions are performed around Australia every year. In practice, early abortion is available on demand.

Abortion should be decriminalised. Early abortion should be freely and easily available on request. Late abortion should be freely and easily available at least for those who have a valid justification: significant fetal abnormality, threat to woman’s health or serious social reason, for example child pregnancy or rape. Family planning, including safe, free and open abortion services, is an essential part of a civilized society.

Failure to regulate abortion properly results in women being denied safe, effective abortion services, affecting their mental health and social welfare, as well as those of their family and society. It is stigmatising to women and health professionals to allow abortion to occur, while retaining it as a criminal offence. It is also moral hypocrisy.

[continued at link]
Source: Practical Ethics blog

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Ireland: #TwoWomenTravel – Live-tweeting an abortion

@twowomentravel Boarding, it's chilly. #endakendyTD

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By BBC Trending, What's popular and why

22 August 2016

The description on their Twitter bio was simple: "Two Women, one procedure, 48 hours away from home." But more than 40,000 tweets about their journey revealed a conversation that was far more complex.

The Twitter account @TwoWomenTravel was set up on Saturday by a pregnant Irish woman and her companion. It documented their journey from Ireland to the UK for an abortion.

Abortion is illegal in Ireland, except if the mother's life is at risk. According to the United Kingdom's Department of Health more than 165,000 women travelled to the UK from Ireland for a termination of pregnancy between 1980 and 2015.

In the case of "Two Women Travel" their journey began in the early hours of this past Saturday morning.
Image copyright Twitter/Two Women Travel

[continued at link]
Source: BBC

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