Abstract – Human rights versus legal control over women’s reproductive self-determination

Diya Uberoi and Maria de Bruyn

Health and Human Rights 15/1

Published June 2013


States have a duty under international human rights law to protect people’s health. Nonetheless, while some health-related policies and laws protect basic human rights, others violate fundamental rights when they criminalize, prohibit, and restrict access to necessary health services. For example, laws and regulations related to protection of life from conception, contraception, actions of pregnant women, and abortion can harm women and place women and health care providers in jeopardy of legal penalization. Given the adverse consequences of punitive and restrictive laws related to pregnancy, advocates, civil society groups, human rights groups, and government institutions must work together to promote, protect, and fulfill women’s fundamental reproductive rights.