29 Women's Rts. L. Rep. 77 (2007-2008)
Abortion as a Human Right

handle is hein.journals/worts29 and id is 83 raw text is: ARTICLE
Abortion as a Human Right
Tatyana A. Margolin*

INTRODUCTION
Every year, millions of women worldwide
experience unintended pregnancies. Nearly
28% of all pregnancies are unplanned.' Sev-
enty-six million unintended pregnancies occur
each year in the developing world alone,2 and
approximately forty-six million of them end in
abortions.3 Twenty million of these are unsafe
abortions4-with 55,000 taking place daily5-
claiming the lives of nearly 68,000 women.6 Un-
safe abortions that result from unwanted preg-
nancy cause[] some 25-50% of [maternal]
deaths, [often] because women do not have ac-
cess to family planning services.., or... treat-
ment for the complications of abortion.,7 Each
year, a half-million more women die from other

pregnancy-related causes.8 This means that
roughly one woman dies during pregnancy or
childbirth every minute.' Those women who are
fortunate enough to survive unsafe abortion[s]
may do so at a heavy physical and mental cost,
which may include impairment of their future
child-bearing capacity.10
Complications from unsafe abortions dis-
proportionately affect women in poorer coun-
tries, with 18.4 million of the total 19 million un-
safe abortions taking place in the developing
world. 'Abortion-related deaths can exceed
30% [of all maternal deaths] in parts of Latin
America,',12 which features some of the
world's more restrictive abortion laws.3 This
percentage is also true for parts of Eastern Eu-

*Staff Attorney, Women's Law Project, Pittsburgh, PA;
J.D., University of Pittsburgh School of Law, 2007; LL.M.
(Human Rights Law), University of Nottingham School of
Law, 2006; B.A., The George Washington University, 2002. I
would like to thank Professor Richard Delgado for his
advisory and editorial support, Jenna Cramer for all of her
help, and Roz Treger for her editorial assistance.
1. NILS DAULAIRE ET AL., GLOBAL HEALTH COUNCIL,
PROMISES TO KEEP THE TOLL OF UNWANTED PREGNANCIES
ON WOMEN'S LIVES IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD 11 (2002),
available at http://www.globalhealth.org/assets/publications/
PromiseToKeep.pdf.
2. SUSHEELA SINGH ET AL., THE ALAN GUTT-MACHER
INST. & UNITED NATIONS POPULATION FUND, ADDING IT
UP: THE BENEFITS OF INVESTING IN SEXUAL AND REPRO-
DUCriVE HEALTH CARE 17 (2004), available at www.unfpa.
org/upload/lib-pubjfile/240 filename-addingitup.pdf.
3. WORLD HEALTH ORG., SAFE ABORTION: TECHNICAL
AND POLICY GUIDANCE FOR HEALTH SYS. 12 (2003), availa-
ble at www.who.int/reproductive-health/publications/safe_
abortion/safeabortion.pdf [hereinafter WORLD HEALTH
ORG., SAFE ABORTION].
4. Id.
5. E. Dana Neacsu, Imposing Sexual Restraint Abroad,
2002 L. Rev. Mich. St. U. Det. C.L. 885, 885 (2002).

6. WORLD HEALTH ORG., UNSAFE ABORTION: GLOBAL
AND REGIONAL ESTIMATES OF THE INCIDENCE OF UNSAFE
ABORTION AND ASSOCIATED MORTALITY IN 2000, at 13 (4th
ed. 2004), available at http://www.who.int/reproductive-
health/publications/unsafeabortion_2000/estimates.pdf [here-
inafter WORLD HEALTH ORG., UNSAFE ABORTION].
7. Rebecca J. Cook, International Protection of Women's
Reproductive Rights, 24 N.Y.U. J. INT'L L. & POL. 645, 646
(1992).
8. Id.
9. Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director, UNFPA,
Lecture at Smith College: Saving Women's Lives (Mar. 26,
2003), available at http://www.unfpa.org/news/news.cfm?ID=
271 (last visited Apr. 26, 2008).
10. Cook, supra note 7, at 646.
11. WORLD HEALTH ORG., UNSAFE ABORTION, supra
note 6, at 13.
12. Hemorrhage, Hypertension Leading Causes Of Mater-
nal Death In Developing Countries, WHO Report Says, MED.
NEWS TODAY, Mar. 30, 2006, http://www.medicalnewstoday.
com/medicalnews.php?newsid=40518 (last visited Apr. 26,
2008) [hereinafter Leading Causes].
13. Juan Forero, Push to Loosen Abortion Laws in Latin
America, N.Y. TIMES, Dec. 3,2005, available at http://www.ny

[Women's Rights Law Reporter, Volume 29, Number 2 & 3, Winter/Spring 2007-2008]
© 2008 by Women's Rights Law Reporter, Rutgers-The State University
0085-8269/80/0908

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