Rewriting Human Rights Decisions
Edited by Eva Brems and Ellen Desmet
Chapter 10: Objection ladies! Taking IPPF-EN v Italy (ECSR) one step further
This chapter suggests how the recent IPPF-EN v Italy case on conscientious objection regulation, decided by the European Committee of Social Rights, could be rewritten in light of the integrated nature of different human rights regimes. In this case, the Committee decided that Italy had breached its obligation under article 11 (right to health) and article E (prohibition of discrimination). In a context in which the regulation of the use of conscientious objection by healthcare providers is becoming a divisive legal question globally, the chapter explores two ideas that could have guided the reasoning of the Committee in an attempt to further strengthen the gendered dimension of the decision and issues raised. The chapter argues first that the Committee should have interpreted the right to health in light of other human rights regimes, emphasizing how limits to access to abortion have a specific adverse effect on women’s rights and stressing the various obligations states have in order to ensure women’s enjoyment of the right to health. The second part of the chapter shows the limits of the Committee’s interpretation of the anti-discrimination clause. In particular, it argues that the Committee’s reliance on a male comparator and its narrow interpretation of intersectionality are ill-suited in light of the evolution in domestic and European anti-discrimination regimes.
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