October 03, 2021 RAPID RESPONSE

Access to Abortion Internationally: Laws and Cases

Access to safe and legal abortion is a fundamental human right. International law recognizes that denying access to abortion can amount to violations of the rights to health, privacy, equality and in certain cases, the right to be free from cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. The U.N. Human Rights Committee’s General Comment 36 reaffirmed that access to abortion is a human right protected under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Committee of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women specifies that the right of a woman or girl to make decisions about her reproductive functions is “at the very core of her fundamental right to equality and privacy.”  However, some countries’ laws criminalize women who seek abortions and those who provide it. Human rights bodies have repeatedly called for the decriminalization of such provisions.

This program gives an overview of abortion laws and relevant jurisprudence globally. The expert panelists describe court decisions and their treatment of cases of unsafe abortion in Africa, Latin America and South Asia, and the incidence of mortality where there is no access to abortion.


  • Rebecca Brown, Senior Director of Global Advocacy, Global Legal Program, Center for Reproductive Rights
  • Catalina Martínez Coral, Regional Director for Latin America & the Caribbean, Global Legal Program, Center for Reproductive Rights
  • Melvine Ouyo, Founder and Executive Director, Hope for Kenya Slum Adolescents Initiative 
  • Susheela Singh, Distinguished Scholar and Vice President for Global Science and Policy Integration, Guttmacher Institute



Presentations: Rebecca BrownSusheela Singh

How abortion laws in the U.S. compare to those in other countries | Washington Post, September 27, 2021

The World's Abortion Laws

Breaking Ground 2020: Treaty Monitoring Bodies on Reproductive Rights

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