CEDAW says Peru must remove barriers to abortion in certain circumstances

In its groundbreaking decision in L.C. v. Peru in 2011, CEDAW held that Peru had violated the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Convention).

The case, which was brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights and PROMSEX, concerned a young girl who became pregnant following sexual abuse and who suffered serious physical harm and paraplegia after a subsequent suicide attempt.

In order to protect her health and enable her to obtain necessary surgery and other medical treatment, a therapeutic abortion was indicated.

However, hospital officials refused to sanction the procedure despite the fact that abortion is permitted in Peru when necessary to protect the health and life of the mother.

No timely and effective procedure was in place to enable the girl or her family to challenge this decision before an independent authority.

At the request of the applicants the ICJ submitted an Expert Legal Opinion to the Committee.

The ICJ brief addressed the nature of the obligation to take steps to guarantee the enjoyment of rights in practice and highlighted the emerging consensus among international authorities that States must put in place effective processes by which women and girls can vindicate their right to an abortion in cases where their health or lives are at stake or where abortion is otherwise legal in State.

In its views the Committee found that violations of the CEDAW Convention had occurred and among other things considered that Peru must establish effective mechanisms to enable women to have access in practice to those abortion services in cases where their health or lives are at stake or where abortion is otherwise legal in State.

Steps by Peru to consider the decision and take effective measures to address the violations identified are now vital. Until such measures are taken, including through making reparation to the individual victim and taking steps to guarantee non-repetition, the violations identified will likely continue.

Peru-Legal Opinion ICJ LC v. Peru-legal submission-2011 (full text in PDF)

For a copy of CEDAW views click here

AdvocacyLegal submissions