The book explores the relationship between violence against women on one hand,
and the rights to health and reproductive health on the other. It argues that
violation of the right to health is a consequence of violence, and that (state)
health policies might be a cause of – or create the conditions for – violence
against women. It significantly contributes to feminist and international human
rights legal scholarship by conceptualising a new ground-breaking idea, violence
against women’s health (VAWH), using the Hippocratic paradigm as the backbone of
the analysis. The two dimensions of violence at the core of the book – the
horizontal, ‘interpersonal’ dimension and the vertical ‘state policies’
dimension – are investigated through around 70 decisions of domestic, regional
and international judicial or quasi-judicial bodies (the anamnesis). The concept
of VAWH, drawn from the anamnesis, enriches the traditional concept of violence
against women with a human rights-based approach to autonomy and a reflection on
the pervasiveness of patterns of discrimination (diagnosis). VAWH as theorised
in the book allows the reconceptualisation of states’ obligations in an
innovative way, by identifying for both dimensions obligations of result, due
diligence obligations, and obligations to progressively take steps (treatment).
The book eventually asks whether it is not international law itself that is the
ultimate cause of VAWH (prognosis).
and 128 in the Constitution of Czechoslovakia, Article 109 in
the Constitution of the German Reich, Article 7 in the Constitution of the Republic
See Thomas Mohr, ‘The Rights of Women under the Constitution of the Irish Free
State’ (2006) 41 Irish Jurist 20, 24.
Themes and influences
above, it is surprising and disappointing that the general equality guarantee failed
to survive the final document.
Religion and the Church
One notable absence from the list of influences is the Roman CatholicChurch.
degree of suffering or disability justifies a premature release effected by us.
Yet even so there remain grey areas in the application of belief that life is sacred. Abortion is banned because the only intent of that operation is to kill the child. The Roman CatholicChurch forbids abortion even when pregnancy threatens the woman’s life. However, a pregnant woman with cancer of the womb may be allowed a hysterectomy, albeit that the child will then die. This is called the doctrine of double effect. The operation for cancer incidentally destroys the child but
demonstrate his idea in relation to functional representation.131
Although the scheme may have had various different sources of inspiration,
the strength of the idea can be seen in each of the three Drafts and it was evidently
felt that this device would satisfy a number of different interests including the
Southern Unionists (because it would help to limit the powers of central government and encourage the involvement of the councils in governance), those with
socialist ideals, the Trade Unions and the CatholicChurch.
Select Constitutions of the World, 238–9.
, accessible at www.hfea.gov.uk/fertility-clinics-success-rates.html
34 See M Brazier, ‘Regulating the Reproduction Business?’ (1999) 7 Medical Law Review 166.
35 See (2003) Guardian 16 January. And see Attorney General’s Reference (No 2 of 2003)  EWCA Crim 785.
36  1 FLR 1091.
38 Re E and F  EWHC 1418.
39 IVF is still opposed by the Roman CatholicChurch on the grounds that it separates the conjugal act and the creation of a child: see E. Jackson, Medical Law: Text
‘Case history’ on violence against women, and against women’s rights to
health and to reproductive health
Sara De Vido
CatholicChurch,273 and traditions.
According to a study published in 2013 by the UN Department of Economic and
Social Affairs, 97 per cent of governments permit abortion to save a woman’s
life; two-thirds of countries permit abortion when the physical or mental health
of the mother is endangered, but only half of the countries surveyed do so when
the pregnancy results from rape or incest or in cases of foetal impairment.274 Only
about one-third of countries permit abortion for economic or social reasons or
on request. On one hand, we can find countries such as Sweden