FRANCE: CYTOTEC WITHDRAWAL ! – Consequences for African countries close to France of the imminent withdrawal of Cytotec (misoprostol) from the market in France

It seems Pfizer’s decision to withdraw Cytotec (their brand of misoprostol) in France has been ill-thought out. The reason given was that in October 2017 they received reports that its off-label use for induction of labour had caused complications in … Continued

EL SALVADOR – Supreme Court commutes 30-year sentence of Teodora del Carmen Vásquez 

Teodora del Carmen Vásquez was a cook in a school cafeteria. Nine months pregnant, on 13 July 2007, she was serving lunch when she had sudden terrible pains. She tried to call the emergency services many times, who never came, and … Continued

POLAND – The worsening situation for women in Poland: Responses of human rights bodies

1. Letter from Nils Muiznieks, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe to the Prime Minister of Poland, 19 January 2018   In the letter, the Commissioner regrets that in spite of previous recommendations he has made, new … Continued

SCANDINAVIA – Dropping the ball or holding the line? Challenges to abortion laws in the Nordic countries

This article examines recent developments regarding the legal regulation of abortion in Sweden, Finland and Norway. Ever since abortion laws in the Nordic countries were overhauled in the 1970s, largely in a response to the feminist movement, abortion has been considered to be largely non-politicised. However, recently all three countries have seen abortion re-emerge repeatedly in the political and legal arena. This article examines the various proposals to amend abortion legislation, asking whether they can be explained with reference to recent international developments in anti-abortion politics. The article argues that although the recent Nordic developments have limited immediate consequences for the availability of abortion as a public service, they suggest, perhaps more importantly, that a long-term struggle is emerging over public opinion supporting universal abortion access.

URUGUAY – Legal barriers to access abortion services through a human rights lens: the Uruguayan experience

Sexual and reproductive health (SRH) has increasingly gained importance in the field of international human rights law. The work of the United Nations bodies, in particular the recently adopted General Comment 22 (GC 22), has been instrumental in signalling the importance of the SRH legal framework and in setting clear guidelines to steer countries into enacting/modifying/repealing national laws in order to comply with their international obligations…. Although within the region Uruguay is regarded as a pioneer in terms of women’s status and rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, evidence points to a number of challenges.

EUROPE – Freedom of conscience in Europe? An analysis of three cases of midwives with conscientious objection to abortion

While abortion has been legal in most developed countries for many years, the topic remains controversial. A major area of controversy concerns women’s rights vis-a-vis the right of health professionals to opt out of providing the service on conscience grounds. Although scholars from various disciplines have addressed this issue in the literature, there is a lack of empirical research on the topic. This paper provides a documentary analysis of three examples of conscientious objection on religious grounds to performing abortion-related care by midwives in different Member States of the European Union, two of which have resulted in legal action.

NORTH & SOUTH OF IRELAND – Abortion as a Workplace Issue: A Trade Union Survey North & South of Ireland

With more than 700,000 members in over 40 affiliated unions, the trade union movement is Ireland’s largest civic society body. Over half our membership is women for whom highly repressive abortion laws in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are an impediment to full equality: without the right to make decisions about their own bodies, women are not truly equal.

We – Unite the Union, Unison, Mandate Trade Union, the CWU Ireland and the GMB – initiated and funded this unique cross-union, all-island survey to explore how such restricted access to abortion affects our working members.

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