Safe and Legal Abortion: An Emerging Human Right? The Long-Lasting Dispute with State Sovereignty in ECHR Jurisprudence
Human Rights Law Review (2015) 15 (3): 569-589
Posted: 1 Oct 2015
In the last 35 years of abortion-related judgments, the European Court of Human Rights has been substantially consistent. On the one hand, it has primarily safeguarded women’s interest in taking decisions concerning their body and life against other individuals’ rights, such as fetuses and partners. On the other hand, when dealing with the domestic legislation of states, the Court has often preferred to allow a broad margin of appreciation, showing an unwillingness to get involved in any sort of interference with States’ sovereignty on such a delicate matter.
This article analyses the juridical attitude of the Strasbourg Court towards abortion, focusing on aspects of the conservative interpretation of its judgments, as well as on new evolutionary elements arising from the latest cases. It is argued that the latter may serve as an important precedent for the future emergence of a right to safe and legal abortion within the Council of Europe framework.
Keywords: abortion, reproductive rights, margin of appreciation, A B and C v Ireland, Articles 3 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
JEL Classification: K10, K33
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