Abortion Rights & Health Effects: Global perspectives Seminar & Workshop

Date: 1st-2nd February 2018. 

Venue: CMI and Bergen Resource Centre for International Development

In August 2017, Chile lifted the blanket ban which criminalized abortion without exception. The new law only allows abortion on limited grounds: in cases of rape, where the mother’s life is at risk, or where the fetus is unviable. Still, it was a momentous change, and of great symbolic effect in a region where abortion is one of the most politically contentious issues, and where many countries have been moving towards more restrictive laws, while others are liberalizing. Also, in other regions abortion laws are contested. In Europe, questions related to abortion are sparking popular mobilization in many countries, not least in Ireland where “Repeal”-activists have gained force to the extent that there will be a referendum next summer, on whether to change the country’s highly restrictive abortion laws. In Poland, a controversial 2016 proposal from the ruling Law and Justice party to impose a total ban on abortions, collapsed following mass protests.

In Norway, a proposal to extend the possibilities for conscientious objection, leading to mass protests in 2013/2014, and on 24 November 2017, Norwegian court found in favour of a doctor refusing to provide women with the contraceptive coil (regarded as an abortion-inducing device).  In all these cases, there are important domestic causes for the legalized abortion struggles, but international actors and networks are also salient drivers. The same is true in other regions: In Africa both abortion law and abortion policies vary greatly, with some countries, and most notably Ethiopia, liberalizing in fact without major legal changes. In other cases, such as in Zambia, the law in principle provides for legal abortion, but on terms that in practice make it near impossible. In the Muslim countries of the MENA region, abortion laws also vary greatly, both in law and in fact – as is the case in Asia, where there are blanket bans on abortion in Iraq, Laos and the Philippines, and quite liberal laws in most other countries, including India and China, but where, for example in India, safe abortions are still hard to obtain.

This seminar will bring together researchers working on abortion-related issues different regions, and with different disciplinary perspective – law, political science, medicine, anthropology, psychology – to exchange insights on both the social and political dynamics of abortion laws, and on the health (and other) effects of different abortion regimes.

The first day is a public seminar examining dynamics across regions. The second day is a closed workshop (attendance by prior inquiry) to present work in progress investigating effects of abortion laws and reproductive rights.



Thursday 1st February:    Public seminar on Abortion Lawfare: Global perspectives

Bergen Resource Centre for International Development 08:30-16:30


 8:30 – 10:00   Breakfast seminar: Abortion Battles: Chile, Ireland & Poland

Introductions by

  • Lidia Casas (Diego Portales University, Chile)
  • Verónica Undurraga (University of Adolfo Ibáñez, Chile)
  • Ruth Fletcher (Queen Mary’s School of Law, University of London)
  • Atina Krajewska (Birmingham Law School)


  • Alicia Yamin (Georgetown University, US)

10:15 – 11:45  Abortion lawfare in Europe and the Americas: regional dynamics and transnational actors

  • Alicia Yamin (Georgetown University, US)
  • Paola Bergallo (Di Tella University, Argentina)
  • Camila Gianella (CMI)
  • Neil Datta (European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development)

11:45 -12:30    Lunch in CMI cafeteria

12:30 – 13:15  Screening ofChoices & Consequences”: An edutainment drama about youth, sexual and reproductive health

13:15 – 14:45   Abortion rights in Africa: law – policy – practice

  • Satang Nabaneh (University of Pretoria)
  • Karen Maria Moland/ Astrid Blystad/ Haldis Haukanes (UiB)
  • Carmeliza Rosario (Cowi)/ Camila Gianella (CMI)
  • Liv Tønnessen (CMI) 

15:00 – 16:30   Abortion rights in India

Introduction: Maya Unnithan  (Professor of Social & Medical Anthropology, University of Sussex)


Friday 2nd February: Workshop: Methodological approaches to studying health effects of abortion law

CMI, Just Faaland Meeting Room 9:00 – 16:00

 This workshop is a forum in which to present ongoing work studying dynamics of abortion struggles and effects of abortion law and reproductive rights.  The workshop is open to participation – with or without paper presentation – by prior agreement. (Contact siri.gloppen@uib.no)

9:00 –  9:30     Siri Gloppen: Welcome and introduction

9:30 – 10:30   Alicia Yamin: “Methodological approaches to studying health effects of abortion law: an introduction”

10:30 – 16:00  (or as long as needed):

Presentations and comments on ongoing research on abortion law and its effects