We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham e-Theses
You are in:

Recognising a Human Right to Abortion

TONGUE, ZOE,LOUISE (2023) Recognising a Human Right to Abortion. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

Full text not available from this repository.
Author-imposed embargo until 08 May 2025.


This thesis presents an argument for the recognition of a human right to abortion in the international human rights framework. Firstly, I identify the key conceptual issues with the current human rights system; its approach to gender-based rights, issues with cross-cultural traction, and the relative lack of protection afforded to economic, social, and cultural rights. I go on to consider the specific limitations of the international human rights framework in relation to abortion, in light of worldwide variations in access to abortion and recent backsliding. The remainder of my thesis seeks to address these issues, by adopting Alan Gewirth’s Principle of Generic Consistency (PGC) and applied in conjunction with feminist values as the foundation for a genuinely universal human rights framework. I argue that the PGC establishes a moral right to abortion which must be recognised as a human right and set out a framework for the progressive realisation of the right to abortion capable of responding to the socio-economic, political, religious, and cultural variation in how abortion is currently addressed. I also consider specific barriers to accessing abortion which must be addressed in order for the right to abortion to be effective. Finally, given the limited enforcement mechanisms available to human rights bodies and the ongoing contested nature of abortion, I consider how the right to abortion could be realised indirectly, through legal change achieved through local social movements, national courts, and regional human rights bodies. My thesis demonstrates an original contribution to knowledge by applying the PGC as a feminist-adjacent theory capable of addressing the key issues with the international human rights approach to abortion.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Law, Department of
Thesis Date:2023
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:11 May 2023 12:17

Social bookmarking: del.icio.usConnoteaBibSonomyCiteULikeFacebookTwitter