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Chapter 14

International Law - Women's Reproductive Rights

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Introduction to the Chapter

Reproductive rights are the most controversial of all women’s rights.  Impassioned defenders of women’s autonomy rights argue with equally impassioned defenders of fetal rights.  The former contend that women can never be free to determine their own destiny in life if they cannot decide when and whether to bear children, a right ultimately guaranteed only by the right to choose abortion at any time.  The latter contend that a fertilized cell (zygote), an embryo, or a fetus is an “unborn baby” whose innocent life must always take precedence over the rights of the pregnant woman, even if she must die as a consequence of giving birth.  Between these two extremes lie many variations.  For example, most abortion rights advocates accept some limits on the availability of abortion.   They would concede that once the fetus is viable, the woman should have the right to choose abortion only where her life or health is at stake.  Similarly, many fetal rights proponents would allow abortion where the woman might die during childbirth or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

Documents from the Chapter

Each document has its own box.  The box contains, on the top bold line, the name of the document. This is followed by the legal citation (not in bold).  Under these lines, the box contains one or more sources for opening the document.  In the left-hand column (“HTML”or “PDF”), the reader can access the official document copy, hosted on RossRights.  This permits rapid access to the document.  In the right-hand column (“External Link”), the reader can access the same document on an official website. This link will often take more time to appear than the PDF or HTML copy, but should be used for official legal citations. Asterisks accompany links where additional steps to reach the document are required.

For all United Nations Treaties, the source marked "Original" contains the UN General Assembly Resolution (G.A. res.) adopting the relevant treaty, which is found in the "Annex" following the Resolution.  The source marked "UN High Comm'r for Human Rights" contains the relevant treaty, without the G.A. res.

When a link requires searching for a symbol (such as "A/RES/54/4"), follow the link, click on the Simple Search button to access the search engine, then type the symbol into the "Symbol" field and click "Search."

Key:
Map AvailableMap(s) Available
Photo AvailablePhoto(s) Available

       B. Europe

       C. Africa

U.S. Cases

Roe v. Wade,

410 U.S. 113 (1973).

Opinion* HTML

*HTML is from Altlaw.org. External Link is from the Cornell University Legal Information Institute.

 

Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania et al. v. Casey,

505 U.S. 833 (1992).

United States Reports PDF

*The opinion begins on p. 883.

 

Gonzales v. Carhart,

550 U. S. ___ (2007) (slip opinion).

United States Reports PDF

 

International Law

A. ICCPR

Huamán v. Peru,

Communication No. 1153/2003, UN Doc. CCPR/C/85/D/1153/2003 (2005).

UN Human Rights Committee PDF

 

 

Map of Peru

Peru is located in Western South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between Chile and Ecuador.

Human Rights Committee, General Comment 28, Equality of Rights between Men and women

G.A. res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.S. 171, entered into force Mar. 23, 1976.
UN High Comm'r for Human Rights HTML

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),

U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.10 (2000).
Original PDF
UN High Comm'r for Human Rights PDF

*Scroll to and click on 2200(XXI).

 

Concluding Observations by U.N. Treaty Bodies

U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights External Link
University of Minnesota Human Rights Library External Link
Bayefsky.com External Link

 

B. CEDAW

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women,

G.A. res. 34/180, 34 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 46) at 193, U.N. Doc. A/34/46, entered into force Sept. 3, 1981.

Original PDF
UN High Comm'r for Human Rights PDF

*To view the text of the Convention, scroll past the "Introduction."

 

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, General Recommendation 24, Women and Health (Twentieth session, 1999),

U.N. Doc. A/49/38 at 1 (1994), reprinted in Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations Adopted by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, U.N. Doc. HRI/GEN/1/Rev.6 at 250 (2003).

United Nations  

 

A.S. v. Hungary,

U. N. Doc. CEDAW/C/36/D/4/2004 (2006).

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women PDF

Map of Hungary

Hungary is located in Central Europe, northwest of Romania.

 

Regional Law

A. US

White v. United States,

Case 2141, Inter-Am. C.H.R. Resolution 23/81, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.54, Doc. 9 rev. 1 (1981).

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights HTML
Concurring Decision of Dr. Andres Aguilar M. HTML
Dissenting Opinions of Drs. Marco Gerardo Monroy Cabra and Luis Demetrio Tinoco Castro HTML

 

American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man,

O.A.S. Res. XXX, reprinted in Basic Documents Pertaining to Human Rights in the Inter-American System, OAS/Ser.L/V/I.4 Rev. 9 (2003); 43 AJIL Supp. 133 (1949).

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights HTML

 

American Convention on Human Rights,

O.A.S.Treaty Series No. 36, 1144 U.N.T.S. 123, entered into force July 18, 1978, reprinted in Basic Documents Pertaining to Human Rights in the Inter-American System, OEA/Ser.L.V/II.82 doc.6 rev.1 at 25 (1992).

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights HTML
Organization of American States Office of International Law HTML

B. Europe

 

Vo v. France,

40 Eur. H.R. Rep. 259 (2004).

European Court of Human Rights HTML

*Search for "Vo v. France" and click on the first result.

 

Written Comments by Center for Reproductive Rights on Vo v. France,

Vo v. France, 40 Eur. Hr.R. Rep. 259 (2004).

Center for Reproductive Rights PDF

 

[European] Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,

(ETS 5), 213 U.N.T.S. 222 entered into force Sept. 3, 1953, as amended by Protocol 11 (ETS 155) which entered into force May 11, 1994.
European Court of Human Rights PDF

C. Africa

 

Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa,

Adopted by the 2nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union, Maputo, CAB/LEG/66.6 (Sept. 13, 2000); reprinted in 1 Afr. Hum. Rts. L.J. 40, entered into force Nov. 25, 2005.

African Union PDF
African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights HTML

 

Sex Selective Abortion

CEDAW Committee, Concluding Observations: China (1999)

U.N. Doc. A/54/38 (1999), paragraphs 251-336.

UN High Comm'r for Human Rights PDF

CEDAW Committee, Concluding Observations: India (2000)

U.N. Doc. A/55/38 (1999), paragraphs 30-90.

UN High Comm'r for Human Rights PDF

Child Marriage

 

Convention on the Rights of the Child,

G.A. res. 44/25, annex, 44 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 49) at 167, U.N. Doc. A/44/49 (1989), entered into force Sept. 2 1990.
Original PDF
UN High Comm'r for Human Rights PDF

 

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child,

OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/24.9/49 (1990), entered into force Nov. 29, 1999.
African Union PDF

Committee on the Right of the Child, General Comment No. 4 (2003),

U.N. Doc. CRC/GC/2003/4 (2003)

United Nations  

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, General Recommendation 21, Equality in Marriage and Family Relations (Thirteenth session, 1994),

U.N. Doc. A/49/38 at 1 (1994), reprinted in Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations Adopted by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, U.N. Doc. HRI/GEN/1/Rev.6 at 153 (2003).

United Nations  

 

Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery,

226 U.N.T.S. 3, entered into force April 30, 1957.
UN High Comm'r for Human Rights PDF

 

Links from the Chapter

Related Maps and Photos

 

 

Map of China

China is located in Southeast Asia, on the Pacific Ocean and the China Sea, between North Korea and Russia on the North and Vietnam and Laos on the South.

 

 

Map of India

India is located in South Asia, on the Indian Ocean between Burma and Bangladesh on the East and Pakistan on the West; it is bordered in the North by the Himalayas, including China, Nepal, and Bhutan.