Open Letter to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

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Open Letter to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
Nov 10, 2017
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Open Letter To:
Ms Catalina Devandas Aguilar
Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
and the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
c/o sr.disability@ohchr.org / crpd@ohchr.org

RE: “Concluding observations on the initial report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” CRPD/C/GBR/CO/1, 29 August 2017 (As adopted during the 18th session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (14 -31 August 2017)

9 November 2017

Dear Ms Devandas Aguilar and members of the CRPD,

I am the International Coordinator of the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion and an abortion rights advocate for more than 35 years, living in the UK. I am writing to you in a personal capacity regarding the “Concluding observations on the report of the UK to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”, as above.

Your recommendations to the UK overall are absolutely fair and just, but I am writing to take issue with those related to abortion, and to explain why. These are as follows:

Equality and non-discrimination (art. 5)

The Committee is concerned about perceptions in society that stigmatize persons with disabilities as living a life of less value than that of others and about the termination of pregnancy at any stage on the basis of fetal impairment.
The Committee recommends that the State party amend its abortion law accordingly. Women’s rights to reproductive and sexual autonomy should be respected without legalizing selective abortion on the ground of fetal deficiency.

My concerns regarding these recommendations are threefold: the first is to do with your definition of “a person”. The second is to do with the reasons why women have abortions vs. how different laws address and codify reasons for abortion as legal or illegal grounds. The third is that I believe including any ground for abortion in the law whatsoever – apart from permitting abortion at the woman’s request – is a mistake because it serves to restrict women’s autonomy and decisions over their own bodies.

Continued at source: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/open-letter-to-the-special-rapporteur-and-committee-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities/

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Why Aren’t American Women’s Rights Guaranteed by Law?

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Why Aren’t American Women’s Rights Guaranteed by Law?
By Janet Benshoof and Serra Sippel
Aug 14, 2017

A fight is again brewing within the Democratic Party after they recently announced that they would fund candidates with anti-abortion stances.

Many American women are frustrated that they must continue fighting against legislatures that actively attack their rights.

Unlike in other countries, and despite what most Americans believe, robust anti-discrimination laws do not protect women in the United States.

Continued at source: Newsweek: http://www.newsweek.com/why-arent-american-womens-rights-guaranteed-law-649848

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Nicaragua: Abortion Ban Threatens Health and Lives

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Nicaragua: Abortion Ban Threatens Health and Lives
Publisher: Human Rights Watch
Publication Date: 31 July 2017

Nicaragua's total ban on abortion is putting women and girls' health and lives at risk, Human Rights Watch said today. The country's 2006 law punishing abortion - without any exceptions, even if pregnancies are life-threatening or resulted from rape - has driven abortions underground. The ban has not stopped abortion, but has made it more unsafe.

Women and girls with crisis pregnancies are getting unsafe clandestine abortions. Often too afraid to seek medical care when complications arise from such abortions, some women and girls delay seeking care and do not disclose to doctors the cause of complications. Medical providers, caught in a conflict between the law and medical ethics, have reported women and girls to police for suspected abortions. Under Nicaragua's criminal code, women and girls who terminate pregnancies face sentences of

Continued at source: Ref World: http://www.refworld.org/docid/597f3e094.html

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Families, fertility and feminism: landmarks in women’s rights

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Families, fertility and feminism: landmarks in women's rights

Women have fought long and hard to secure access to family planning and abortion, and reduce maternal mortality. A modern timeline of that struggle tells a story full of highs and lows

by Liz Ford
Thursday 27 July 2017

Women have been joining forces to agitate for their right to a better life for centuries, but some of the most significant changes have occurred over the past four decades.

It has been a journey of big leaps, small steps and setbacks. Four international women’s conferences, a bunch of UN resolutions and two sets of global goals have all played their part.

Continued at source: The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/jul/27/families-fertility-feminism-landmarks-in-womens-rights-timeline

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Human Rights Watch Submission on South Korea to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

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Human Rights Watch Submission on South Korea to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
June 20, 2017

We write in advance of the 69th pre-sessional working group of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and its review of South Korea’s compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). This submission focuses on restrictions on women’s reproductive rights, LGBT rights and sex education in schools, ongoing discrimination against women, and addresses articles 3, 5, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, and 16 of the Convention.

Continued at source: Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/06/20/human-rights-watch-submission-south-korea-committee-elimination-discrimination

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Nigeria: NGO kick-starts campaign against unsafe abortion

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NGO kick-starts campaign against unsafe abortion
June 7, 2017

A Nigerian-based, Non-governmental organisation (NGO), Initiative for Women and Youth Network (GIWYN), has kicked off a campaign against unsafe abortion in the country, noting that over 2, 000 women engage in abortion daily in Nigeria.

The founder of the initiative, Ms Rosy, made this observation at its corporate headquarters at Okota, Isolo, Lagos State, stressing that due to various restrictions, abortion is practiced in the country under unsafe and risky procedures among poor rural women and people without easy access to information and thus are at the risk of death.

Continued at source: The Nigerian Tribune: http://tribuneonlineng.com/ngo-kick-start-campaign-unsafe-abortion/

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El Salvador: What happens when abortion is illegal in all circumstances

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What happens when abortion is illegal in all circumstances

Jeannette Urquilla
May 30, 2017

El Salvador has one of the worst records on reproductive rights in the world. Since 1998, Article 133 of the Penal Code has made abortion illegal in all circumstances, without exception, punishable by up to eight years in prison. Sentences of up to 30 years have been handed down when a judge determined that “homicide” rather than abortion had occurred. The Alliance for Women’s Health and Life has reported that 147 El Salvadorian women were charged with crimes relating to abortion between 2000 and 2014.

Because our laws are so draconian, so tilted in favor of the rights of fetuses over those of living women, pregnant women experiencing difficulties may not feel safe in El Salvador’s hospitals. We’ve all heard about Maria Teresa Rivera, who was sentenced to 40 years in prison after she miscarried. (She was released after serving four.) We are terrified of having medical problems during pregnancy as there is an underlying presumption of guilt. So women often suffer in silence, which causes further complications.

Continued at source: LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-urquilla-el-salvador-abortion-20170530-story.html

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Brazil: Court Reviewing Criminalization of Abortion

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Brazil: Court Reviewing Criminalization of Abortion
April 25, 2017

Amicus Briefs Cite Violations of Women’s Rights

(Sao Paulo) – Criminalization of abortion is incompatible with Brazil’s human rights obligations, Human Rights Watch said today in filing amicus briefs in two cases before the Federal Supreme Court. Human Rights Watch said that the court should move to decriminalize abortion.

Abortion is legal in Brazil only in cases of rape, when necessary to save a woman’s life, or when the fetus suffers anencephaly – a fatal congenital brain disorder. Women and girls who terminate pregnancies under any other conditions face sentences of up to three years in prison, while people who perform abortions face up to four years.

Continued at source: Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/04/25/brazil-court-reviewing-criminalization-abortion

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El Salvador: the debate on abortion law reform is officially open

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El Salvador: the debate on abortion law reform is officially open
Mar 28, 2017, by Safe Abortion

This year is the first time that this Central American country has openly debated abortion, forcing even conservative media organisations to cover the issue in editorials and primetime news programmes since abortion was made completely illegal almost 20 years ago.

“This is an historic moment. There’s been a qualitative shift – it’s not just women’s groups speaking out. Abortion has become a priority topic for a range of groups. It… feels like change. Politicians must make amends for the damage done to thousands of women … there is no going back,” said Sara García, a campaigner with the Agrupación Ciudadana por la Depenalización de Aborto.

In February 2017, CEDAW published its recommendations to the El Salvador government that it should decriminalise abortion at least in certain circumstances, and should expedite the adoption of the draft law tabled by the FMLN on four grounds to that effect. During CEDAW’s deliberations, the Agrupación, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP submitted an expert report detailing how the extreme hostility exercised under the existing law put the lives and health of Salvadoran women at grave risk.

In March, the Foundation for the Study of the Implementation of the Law (FESPAD), together with the Association of Women Lawyers (AMA), created a Forum for dialogue between Salvadoran and international jurists on the subject of decriminalisation of abortion, which called on the Members of the El Salvador Parliament to legislate for the health and lives of women, girls and adolescents by approving the proposals tabled earlier this year to decriminalise abortion on four grounds.

The Forum, entitled Constitutional Guarantees, addressed the collision of rights between pregnant women and the developing child they are carrying, and the gulf between the country’s national legislation and international conventions on reproductive rights that currently exists.

“The termination of pregnancy should be permitted in cases in which the pregnancy threatens the life of the pregnant woman, or when the fetus is unviable due to fetal anomalies,” said Ricardo Iglesias, Salvadoran constitutional expert. He held that while some rights from the moment of conception are recognised, these rights are not absolute, and they do not take precedence over other rights, including those of the pregnant woman.

On 20 March, the Committee on Legislation and Constitutional Issues of the Legislative Assembly held a consultation on the two pending bills to reform Article 133 of the Penal Code in relation to abortion, the one a bill to increase the criminal penalties for abortion, tabled by Deputy Ricardo Velázquez Parker of the ARENA party, the other a bill to decriminalise abortion on four grounds, tabled by Lorena Peña of the FMLN.

The FMLN bill would allow abortion in cases of risk to the life or health of the pregnant woman, fetal anomaly incompatible with life, pregnancies resulting from rape or trafficking, and for girls and adolescents who would have to face motherhood imposed by sexual abuse.

“In regard to these two initiatives, we believe in and we support the amendment tabled by Lorena Peña, as it is a step forward on the issue and would provide pregnant women with the right to have an abortion on these four grounds,” said Abraham Abrego, Director of FESPAD. Although he acknowledged that these grounds are still limited, it is an improvement on the current situation and would give the necessary legal security to both women and abortion providers in high-risk cases.

The Agrupación also reported on 21 March 2017 that María Teresa Rivera, 34, the most recent women among Las 17 to be released from prison in 2016, after serving four and a half years of a 40-year sentence on charges of aggravated homicide, was granted asylum by the government of Sweden for herself and her 11-year-old son.

Then, on 24 March, they reported that two representatives of the US Congress, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Norma J Torres, delivered a letter signed by 21 members of Congress, including the senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives, Eliot Engel, to the President of El Salvador, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, and the President of the Salvadoran Congress, Guillermo Gallegos Navarrete. The letter asked them also to support the efforts to decriminalise abortion on four grounds. In the letter, these members of the US Congress expressed their opposition to the total ban on abortion in El Salvador and called on President Sánchez Cerén to work with civil society and the Salvadoran Congress to advance the FMLN amendments. The letter also emphasises that while the decriminalization of abortion on the four grounds is not sufficient to guarantee access to all reproductive health services for Salvadoran women, it does represent a significant improvement and brings El Salvador closer to complying with international human rights standards.

SOURCES: Agrupación Ciudadana, 24 de marzo de 2017; The Guardian, 23 March 2017 ; Agrupación Ciudadana, 22 de marzo de 2017 ; Agrupación Ciudadana, 20 de marzo de 2017; Agrupación Ciudadana, 6 de marzo de 2017 ; Al-Jazeera, 28 October 2016

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Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/el-salvador-the-debate-on-abortion-law-reform-is-officially-open/

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El Salvador Should Decriminalize Abortion

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El Salvador Should Decriminalize Abortion
Some Women Accused of Having Abortions Convicted of Murder, Sentenced to 40 Years

by Sarah Taylor
February 16, 2017

In 2013, the life of “Beatriz,” a 22-year-old woman in El Salvador, was put in grave danger as a result of her pregnancy. But abortion is illegal in El Salvador. Trying to save her own life, Beatriz took her case to the Supreme Court – after all, her doctors deemed the medical procedure necessary for her to live – but the court ruled she could not have an abortion. Even the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights intervened, but it was not enough. Beatriz’s health deteriorated; the government delayed. Finally, Beatriz underwent an emergency Caesarean section, and the baby died several hours later. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, she has continued to have health consequences from the ordeal.

Continued at source: Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/02/16/el-salvador-should-decriminalize-abortion

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