UN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE – General comment No. 36 (2018) on article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, on the right to life

This document contains 70 paragraphs on the meaning of the right to life, one of which (para.8) is about abortion. Paragraph 8 calls for a right to safe abortion, and prohibits any restriction that might lead to an unsafe abortion or risk of death from unsafe abortion. It calls on states to reform their laws, and not to apply criminal sanctions against women and girls undergoing abortion or against medical service providers assisting them in doing so, since taking such measures compel women and girls to resort to unsafe abortion.

NEW ZEALAND – The Law Commission reports back to the government: ALRANZ’s analysis

During the national elections in NZ that elected Jacinda Ardern as Prime Minister last year, she declared her intention to decriminalise abortion and change the law to treat abortion as a health matter. In February 2018, her Minister of Justice, Andrew Little, directed the Law Commission to report back to him in eight months with options for abortion law reform. The Law Commission’s 236-page report, Alternative Approaches to Abortion Law has now been published. It … Continued

NORWAY – Prime Minister seeks to revise abortion law for political gain: demonstrations in Norway

On 30 October 2018, there were 2,000 people in a demonstration in Oslo against Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who is trying to change the abortion law so that she can gain the support of the Christian Democratic Party for a coalition government. This party is currently considering whether to go into coalition with a conservative government or a social democratic government. Emily McLean, member of Women’s Front, spoke at the rally in Bergen the same day, … Continued

ITALY – Verona city council approves anti-abortion motion; Milan city council says no

“Constitutional democracy was not born out of rights, but out of promises. It was not created containing, for example, the right to divorce, the right to terminate a pregnancy, or equal rights and obligations between spouses, and civil unions. In short, when we denounce the assault on these freedoms, we must keep in mind that these were not granted to us by constitutional democracy. Instead, it is constitutional democracy that gave us the opportunity to … Continued

USA – A letter in response to the podcast: “The Good in the Other, the Doubt in Ourselves”

On 4 October 2018, Hanna Neuschwander wrote to Frances Kissling in response to Frances’ podcast of that title. This is her letter: Hi Frances, You don’t know me, but I felt compelled to write to you after listening to the recent episode of On Being that you recorded (“What Is Good in the Position of the Other?”). I can’t tell you how much this episode meant to me. As I listened to it, I felt … Continued

GHANA – A debate on abortion has initiated in the Ghanaian parliament

Two members of the Ghanaian parliament, Dr Bernard Okoe Boye and Ms Zanetor Rawlings, have called for debate on the question of decriminalisation of abortion after data were reported publicly that show a high rate of unsafe abortions and deaths from complications in the country, as well as a growing number of unsafe abortions among teens and young women. Dr Okoe Boye, called for the decriminalisation of abortion in the country – not “an unrestricted, … Continued

MEXICO: 28 SEPTEMBER AND MORE

A few days after thousands of women took to the streets of Mexico City to demand the decriminalisation of abortion on International Safe Abortion Day, the party PRD put the issue on the table of the Mexica Congress. Senator Leonor Noyola, with support from her caucus, presented a bill that seeks to add three new paragraphs to Article 1 of the Mexican Constitution. Article 1 currently recognises the human rights of all Mexicans and the … Continued

MADAGASCAR: 28 SEPTEMBER REPORT – Nous pouvons éviter que des femmes meurent (We can prevent women dying)

In Madagascar, the Minister of Public Health announced that an estimated 75,000 abortions take place per year in the country, that there is one abortion per ten live births and based on data from East Africa, there are about 575 deaths from complications of unsafe abortion on the Madagascar mainland per year. Complications of unsafe abortion are the second highest cause of maternal deaths registered in the health system, after antenatal and post-partum haemorrhage. In a study at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Gynécologie-Obstétrique Befelatanana in 2012-13, there were 360 cases of complications of unsafe abortion, with a fatality rate of 4.16%. According to another study in this same hospital in 2011-12, the majority of those treated for complications were aged 15-24 years, with the age range being 15-43 years of age. 70% of cases were due to haemorrhage, and 30% due to sepsis. But these data do not reflect the reality outside of hospital clinics, where many women never seek treatment and die of post-abortion complications. These problems are all due to abortions being prohibited in the law, and take place clandestinely, using unsafe, often traditional methods.

JAMAICA – Health Minister calls for compassion for women who seek abortion and announces that the Ministry is developing a sexual and reproductive health policy

  On 8 June 2018, we reported that on 5 June Member of Parliament Julia Cuthbert-Flynn had tabled a motion in the Jamaican parliament calling for a debate on the law that criminalises abortion. In fact, she also tabled a private member’s bill the next day calling for the sections criminalising abortion in the Offences against the Person Act to be removed and replaced with civil law. On 6 June Nationwide Radio JM reported that … Continued

ICELAND – Progressive changes proposed to the abortion law

Health Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir has decided to submit a bill to parliament which, if approved, would allow abortion on request up to 22 weeks in Iceland, as reported by RÚV. Under current law, women are permitted to have an abortion up to the 16th week of pregnancy if there are specifically approved health reasons or for ‘social reasons’ such as if the pregnancy is the result of a rape. The existing law also allows for … Continued

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