Access to safe abortion as a human right in the African region: Lessons from emerging jurisprudence of un treaty-monitoring bodies

Authors Charles Ngwena

ISSN: 1996-2126
Affiliations: Professor, Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Source: South African Journal on Human Rights, Volume 29 Issue 2, 2013, p. 399 – 428


Each year, unsafe abortion causes the death of thousands of women, rendering them seriously ill and disabling many more in the African region. Highly restrictive abortion law is a major causative factor. Among United Nations (UN) treaty-monitoring bodies, there is a growing, albeit incremental, recognition of access to safe abortion services as a human right. Against the backdrop of abortion regimes that impede access to safe abortion in the African region, this article takes critical stock of the contribution that UN treaty-monitoring bodies are making towards the development of jurisprudence that conceives access to abortion as a human right. Its main focus is on critically appraising three decisions made by UN treaty-monitoring bodies, namely, KL v Peru; LMR v Argentina; and LC v Peru under Optional Protocols and drawing lessons for the African region.