UN classifies lack of abortion access as a form of torture

PolicyMic reports:

Last year, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Reproductive Rights, Anand Grover, broke major ground by demanding the removal, without delay, of all barriers with regard to reproductive access globally, as well as granted access to contraception. In his report, Grover declared denial of access to abortion as discriminatory. Coupled with the new report from the Special Rapporteur on Torture, women’s rights activists worldwide are cheering.

In his report, Méndez, too, holds that denial of reproductive justice is discrimination on the basis of gender and denial of that right can cause “tremendous and lasting physical and emotional suffering” to women. According to the Special Rapporteur’s report, such violations include:

Abusive treatment and humiliation in institutional settings; involuntary sterilization; denial of legally available health services such as abortion and post-abortion care; forced abortions and sterilizations; female genital mutilation; violations of medical secrecy and confidentiality in health-care settings, such as denunciations of women by medical personnel when evidence of illegal abortion is found; and the practice of attempting to obtain confessions as a condition of potentially life-saving medical treatment after abortion.

I absolutely agree that every aspect condemned as torture would, if done to a man under apposite circumstances, count as torture — as cruel and unusual punishment, as discriminatory. That it takes the United Nations to declare it such suggests to me that people do not realize this fact; that people do not realize this fact suggests further that the people claiming “patriarchy is a lie” are incapable of seeing torture of women as actual torture, because the evidence is right there in their faces that these torturous circumstances exist only for and disadvantage only women, and that men are using the fact of women’s ability to become pregnant to control them utterly.

Does this declaration mean we can frog-march people attempting to restrict abortion access in, say, Texas and elsewhere, off to The Hague? A guy can dream…


  1. Pen says

    That is really cool, but what does the small print mean?

    denial of legally available health services such as abortion and post-abortion care;

    That ‘legally available’ bit?

  2. says

    How long before someone attempts to redefine torture, I wonder…

    I fear the far right already did that years ago, during the Bush Administration, when they tried to claim that waterboarding wasn’t torture.

  3. sathyalacey says

    “That is really cool, but what does the small print mean?” “That ‘legally available’ bit?”
    They’re saying it’s not enough to have access to abortion and post-abortion care. They’re saying it should be legal too.

  4. kitty says

    Pen beat me to it, but yeah. “(L)egally available”? Sounds like it doesn’t apply to governments to me. But hey, it’s better than nothing, I guess.

  5. Jackie: ruining feminism one fabulous accessory at a time says

    Forced pregnancy and childbirth is certainly torture. Good for the UN.

  6. says

    the “denial of legally available services” bit means it’s unethical to withhold or make unavailable medical treatment that is legal in the country. you know, like how abortion is theoretically legal in the us, but really fucking hard to come by in some places.

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