'Woman' in the European Human Rights System: How is the Reproductive Rights Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights Constructing Narratives of Women’s Citizenship?

34 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2021

See all articles by Liiri Oja

Liiri Oja

European University Institute

Alicia Ely Yamin

Harvard University - Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics; Harvard University - Harvard Law School; Partners in Health; Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) - Center on Law and Social Transformation

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

Reproductive rights are constructed through a gender-conscious reading of already recognized human rights. We argue that despite the increasingly strong recognition of reproductive rights in international human rights law by the treaty-monitoring bodies and international tribunals, the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (“ECtHR” or “the Court”) reflects a limited understanding of women’s experiences, does not adequately challenge gender stereotypes, and often ignores reproductive rights dimensions in the standards it is setting, as well as the narratives it is creating. Our analysis of the Court’s jurisprudence on abortion, home birth, non-consensual gynecological examinations, forced sterilizations, and assisted reproduction reveals that a woman’s reproductive capacity continues to be her defining feature. Motherhood is seen as a woman’s default life plan, her decisions regarding her body, health, and ultimately life, are perpetually under scrutiny and the contours of her agency subject to medical professionals’ views, the legislators and the general public.

Suggested Citation

Oja, Liiri and Yamin, Alicia Ely, 'Woman' in the European Human Rights System: How is the Reproductive Rights Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights Constructing Narratives of Women’s Citizenship? (2016). Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, Vol. 32, No. 1, 2016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3795576

Liiri Oja

European University Institute ( email )

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Alicia Ely Yamin (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics ( email )

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United States

Harvard University - Harvard Law School ( email )

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Partners in Health ( email )

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Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) - Center on Law and Social Transformation ( email )

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Norway

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