Chicago Journal of International Law


On July 11, 2003, the African Union ("AU") adopted a "Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa" ("Protocol"), which established a woman's right to have an abortion in cases of rape or incest or to preserve the health of the mother. Perhaps surprisingly, this Protocol is the first explicit mention of abortion rights in international law. For a variety of reasons, many international organizations have carefully avoided taking positions on positive abortion rights. Complicating the issue are the laws of some nations that affect, at least indirectly, the ability of other nations to create their own policies and develop them independently. The purpose of this Development is to briefly identify current issues in abortion rights in the international context and to suggest a framework for the future.