Report to Human Rights Committee on US Abortion Bans as Violations of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Since the United States (US) was last reviewed by the Human Rights Committee (HRC) nearly a decade ago in 2014, there have been significant developments in the area of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for women, girls, and people who can become pregnant living in the US, including the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision in June 2022. This decision overturned the constitutional right to abortion in the US after 50 years of precedent following the US Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973.
Human rights experts warned before the Dobbs decision that overturning Roe would violate the rights of women, girls, and all people who can become pregnant in the US, as well as healthcare providers’ rights. Following the decision, the experts noted that whereas the restrictive new legal environment would not reduce the need for abortions, it would be guaranteed to increase the number of women and girls seeking clandestine and unsafe abortions, particularly for people of color and those living in poverty, and would fuel abortion stigma, leading to abuse of people in need of post-abortion care.
The decision to continue a pregnancy or terminate it must fundamentally and primarily be a woman’s decision as it will shape her whole future personal life and family life. The right of a woman to make autonomous decisions about her own body and reproductive functions is at the very core of her fundamental right to equality, non-discrimination, health, and privacy.
As our submission details below, the restrictive environment around abortion in the US now also violates the rights to life and to be free of torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment (CIDT), as well as rights to free expression and movement, as guaranteed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).