Abortion Rights in International Law: The Inter-American Human Rights System and a Post-Roe v. Wade America
UCLA Undergraduate Law Journal, vol. 21, 2022, pp. 63–89.
27 Pages Posted: 10 May 2022 Last revised: 16 May 2023
Date Written: March 1, 2022
The present threat of abortion bans in the United States endangers the basic rights of privacy, bodily autonomy, and non-discrimination that are enshrined in international law. The Inter-American System of Human Rights (IAS) imposes binding obligations on the U.S. to safeguard these rights. The jurisprudences of IAS organs expand on clear rights to bodily autonomy, respect for privacy and family life, and non-discrimination within international law. The Inter-American Court applied these rights to reproductive autonomy in the 2012 case Murillo v. Costa Rica. Under the Supreme Court’s arbitrariness test, recent attempts to restrict abortion constitute arbitrary interferences in individuals’ private and family lives and result in discriminatory effects that violate international law. The most prominent of these restrictions, Texas Senate Bill 8, is being considered in Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson; the U.S. Supreme Court is now positioned to strike down the right to abortion. In the event that the Court does acts to nullify Roe v. Wade, the Inter-American System provides the only remaining effective avenue to safeguard the reproductive rights of women in the United States.
Keywords: Abortion, international human rights law, Inter-American Human Rights System, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ,Inter-American Court of Human Rights
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