Two Years On From A “Landmark” Abortion Decision in Kenya

Two years ago, the Kenyan High Court in Malindi decided PAK and Salim Mohammed v. Attorney General et al., affirming that the constitutional right to abortion is “fundamental.”

Approximately 2,600 people lose their lives to unsafe abortion in Kenya each year, with an additional 21,000 people requiring hospitalization. While the Kenyan Constitution, adopted in 2010, allows for abortion when the pregnant person’s life or health is at risk under Article 26(4), the Kenyan Penal Code still criminalizes it—a legal grey area creating “ambiguity, confusion, and stigma.

This article will describe the PAK decision and analyze it in line with trends in transnational abortion law.

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Stethoscope on Ghana flag.

Dr. Eunice Brookman-Amissah: A Pioneer in Safe Abortion Law Reform

By Joelle Boxer

Late last year, Dr. Eunice Brookman-Amissah won the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize,” for her pioneering efforts to improve safe abortion access in sub-Saharan Africa.

According to Dr. Brookman-Amissah, of the 36,000 deaths that occur globally due to unsafe abortion, almost 24,000 are in sub-Saharan Africa. “That was a totally unacceptable state of affairs,” she said, “given the fact that nobody, absolutely no woman has to die from a totally treatable and manageable cause.” Her advocacy work is credited with contributing to a 40% reduction in deaths from unsafe abortion in the region since 2000.

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cell with pipette and needle.

Are Embryos Children? The Alabama Supreme Court Says Yes

By Joelle Boxer

This month, the Alabama Supreme Court held that the term “children” in a state statute includes embryos, or “extrauterine children.”

As fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF) involve the creation of multiple embryos, not all of which are implanted, the implications of this ruling could be far-reaching. Four million births each year in the U.S. are via IVF, an important pathway to parenthood for couples with infertility, LGBTQ couples, and single parents.

This article will examine the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision in LePage v. Mobile Infirmary Clinic and its consequences for Americans building their families through fertility services.

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. Group of pregnant women and women with children. Vector illustration

#MaternalHealthAwarenessDay: Three Policies to Push

By Joelle Boxer

Today is Maternal Health Awareness Day, focused on the theme “Access in Crisis.”

“Crisis” is the right word, yet still an understatement. In the U.S., for every 100,000 live births in 2021, nearly 33 pregnant people lost their lives. In Norway, that number was 2. Black and Native American women in the U.S. are particularly at risk, with death rates 2-3 times higher than those of white women, due to structural racism.

What can the law do to prevent these deaths? Medicaid pays for more than 40% of births in the U.S., covering 64% of Black mothers and 66% of Native American mothers. Examining efforts at the federal and state level, I highlight three options, leveraging Medicaid as a policy lever.

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Rows of gold post office boxes with one open mail box.

Plan to See ‘Plan C’ This Year

By Joelle Boxer

Tracy Droz Tragos’ new documentary, “Plan C,” follows the work of a grassroots organization dedicated to improving access to the abortion pill by mail in the U.S., while navigating an increasingly restrictive legal landscape.

There is no better time to hear the perspectives of these patients, providers, and activists. Just last month, the U.S. Supreme Court took on a case to determine the legal status of the pill, also called mifepristone. With a decision expected in June 2024, Tragos’ film shows us what’s at stake.

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An ordinary classroom in an African school.

Two Years On: The Reversal of Tanzania’s Education Policies for Adolescent Mothers

By Joelle Boxer

In November 2021, Tanzania’s Ministry of Education reversed a policy preventing adolescent mothers from attending public schools. Two years on, research shows the movement for #ArudiShuleni (“Back to School”) requires continued support.

Prior to the policy change, an estimated 6,55015,000 Tanzanian girls and adolescents were forced out of school each year due to pregnancy, while thousands more were subject to coercive pregnancy testing. The reversal has fundamental implications at the intersection of rights to sexual and reproductive health care and education.

This article will review the expulsion policy, efforts leading to its reversal, and the government’s recent re-entry guidelines, with a focus on the driving role of civil society.

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FAIRFAX COUNTY, VIRGINIA, USA - NOVEMBER 4, 2008: Women voters at polls during presidential election, paper ballots.

Taking Abortion to the Polls: What To Expect in Ohio

By Joelle Boxer

Dobbs “return[ed]” the authority to regulate abortion to “the people and their elected representatives.” The people of Ohio will act on that authority on November 7, demonstrating yet again the emerging role of referenda in American abortion law.

The referendum will determine if “The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety Amendment,” or Issue 1, is added to the Ohio Constitution. It reads as follows: “Every individual has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including but not limited to decisions on contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one’s own pregnancy, miscarriage care, and abortion.”

The amendment would establish a constitutional right to abortion before fetal viability (around 22-24 weeks gestation), and would include exceptions for later term abortions in instances where it is necessary to protect the pregnant person’s life or health.

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State of California flag on a flagpole.

California’s Reproductive Freedom Efforts Should Meaningfully Include People With Disabilities

By Joelle Boxer

Last month, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a package of nine reproductive health care bills, following the passage of fifteen such bills in 2022. While the state should be lauded for its efforts, it has come up short. Recent legislation largely excludes up to 25% of the adult population: Californians with disabilities.

People with disabilities in the U.S. experience wide disparities in accessing reproductive health care, rooted in a long history of oppressive reproductive control. California should take action now to address these disparities and fulfil its goal of becoming a “reproductive freedom state” for all.

This article will examine recent movement on reproductive health care legislation in California, explain its failure to meet the needs of Californians with disabilities, and suggest a path forward in line with principles of disability reproductive justice.

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United States Capitol Building - Washington, DC.

How Comparative Law Can Counter Threats to the ‘Most Successful Global Health Program in Modern History’

By Joelle Boxer

PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, is under threat. Some members of Congress are withholding reauthorization support while arguing, without evidence, that PEPFAR funds abortion.

This is untrue: U.S. law prohibits PEPFAR from funding abortion. That alone should resolve the current impasse and secure the program’s reauthorization. Should bad faith opponents require further reassurance, however, they need look no further than the local legal realities of the 25 countries and 3 regions where PEPFAR operates.

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Puebla, Mexico - September 28, 2020: With green scarves, members of feminist collectives demonstrate in the streets of the Historic Center of Puebla to demand the legalization of abortion.

Sex Equality in #SeptiembreVerde: Examining the Mexican Supreme Court’s Abortion Decriminalization Decision

By Joelle Boxer

Earlier this month, Mexico’s Supreme Court issued a ruling decriminalizing abortion nationwide, setting a powerful example in the global trend of abortion law liberalization, including on the grounds of sex equality.

Hailed as “incredible” by reproductive justice advocates, the decision will be most impactful in the 20 Mexican states where local laws still criminalize abortion, potentially removing access barriers for more than 42 million women.

This article will explain the origins of the case, what the decision holds, and what it says about sex equality.

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