Abortion Declared a Human Right by United Nations Committee


abortion- human right
A case in which a 17-year-old was denied an abortion 15 years ago has led the United Nations Human Rights Committee to make an important affirmation.
In 2001, K.L. was a 17-year-old who was diagnosed as having a fetus with anencephaly at 14 weeks' gestation. As described below, this fetal anomaly is routinely lethal. Although abortion was legal in Peru in this circumstance, a hospital director refused her request for an abortion. She was forced to continue her pregnancy and deliver the doomed fetus, which survived only four days. Working with human rights lawyers, K.L. filed a complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Committee, based in Geneva. In 2005, the Committee concluded that Peru had violated several articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and it ordered financial compensation to K.L. Fifteen years after the incident, reparations were finally made for Peru's "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment." This marked the first time a United Nations Committee had held a country accountable for failing to ensure access to safe, legal abortion.
"It was a huge step toward justice for K.L. and a landmark decision for the UN," Lilian Sepúlveda, one of the attorneys originally involved in K.L.'s case told the Center for Reproductive Rights.
The ruling has global implications, especially in developing countries. Since 2003, the number of abortions has increased by 2.8 million in developing regions, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Although the medical procedure is not unsafe, it is still unsafely performed in these regions and beyond: About 13% of maternal deaths worldwide are attributed to unsafe abortion, according to Human Rights Watch, and 95% of abortions in Latin America and more than 97% of abortion in Africa were unsafe in 2008, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Notably, legal abortion is associated with safer procedures, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Efforts like K.L.'s — which not only affirms that access to abortion is beneficial, but is also a right — are crucial, and the justice received is well-deserved.
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