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Spring 2022 Seminar

Contested Domains: Comparative and International Legal Struggles over Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Prerequisites: None. Previous exposure to women’s/gender studies and/or international human rights law will be helpful.

For additional background, the following books are on reserve:

Philip Alston and Ryan Goodman, International Human Rights: The Successor to International Human Rights in Context: Law, Politics, Morals (Oxford; Oxford University Press, 2012)

Lucy Delap, Feminisms: A Global History (Chicago; University of ChicagoPress ; 2020).

Rebecca Cook, Joanna Erdman & Bernard Dickens, eds, Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies (Philadelphia; University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014).

Exam Type: No Exam
Final paper on pre-approved topic.

Course Description:
At the intersection of debates about religion, private morality and public policy, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are lightning rods of controversy in most societies. The pandemic revealed the precariousness of advances in reproductive justice and SRHR, which had been forged in significant measure through legal mobilization and the use of international human rights standards. However, pre-pandemic, it was already evident that a wave of ethnonationalism and populism had created backlash against reproductive justice under the umbrella of anti- “gender ideology”. Drawing on case examples from multiple regions, as well as in supra-national human rights forums, the course will explore: the origins and evolution of asserting international legal claims to SRHR; challenges to advancing reproductive justice and SRHR in diverse lived realities; and contested narratives about health, sexuality and rights embedded in SRHR claims.

Course Objectives:
The overall objective of this course is to equip students to critically analyze the implications of framing and using rights in specific ways to advance gender equality, sexual and reproductive health and reproductive justice.
At the end of the course students should be able to:
Critically evaluate the evolution and impact of using international human rights law to advance SRHR.
Articulate disputed concepts and faultlines in the area of SRHR and how these affect the use of human rights frameworks and strategies around different issues.
Describe linkages between development models and medical/public health paradigms and the theorization/effective enjoyment of SRHR in practice.