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Comparative Legal Perspectives on Abortion

Abortion rights are being claimed, challenged, and contested around the world - not only after Dobbs. Between defendants of reproductive autonomy and advocates of a fetal right to life, consensus may seem hard to find. The German debate was stuck since the Federal Constitutional Court obliged Parliament to criminalise abortion in 1993 but is gaining new momentum. This blog debate aims to enrich the national debate with a comparative perspective, assembling legal experts from different constitutional traditions and legal systems to explore what regulation may look like.

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Volume 4,
Issue 3
October 2022

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01 Februar 2023

Anti-Terror Legislation and Property Rights in Egypt

In January 2023, the Egyptian cabinet introduced a new bill for parliamentary discussion proposing the establishment of a new body to manage seized funds and assets confiscated by the state, including the seized assets of individuals and organizations legally designated as terrorists. In the midst of a severe economic crisis, the bill allows the transfer of confiscated funds and assets from the public treasury to a new entity that would have the mandate to take any form of disposition regarding these assets. The Egyptian sheds the light on the problematic “preventive” nature of counter-terrorism regulations, which vanishes criminal law safeguards and rule of law standards.

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A Decade of Implementation

Uruguay gained international praise in 2012 when it passed one of the most liberal abortion laws on the continent. While the law undoubtedly represents a step in the right direction, ten years have passed, and the law and its implementation could not live up to the expectations. The Uruguayan abortion law over-medicalizes, paternalizes, and imposes a series of very burdensome requirements on people wishing to access abortion services, in violation of human rights law.

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The rise of Article 122 TFEU

The last decade, and especially the past year, saw a marked increase in the EU’s reliance on Article 122 TFEU. This legal basis was used to adopt a series of measures aimed to address the health and energy crises following the COVID pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. At least two of those measures are now subject to direct challenges before the General Court and the Court of Justice. From a constitutional perspective, however, it is unfortunate that these two cases will probably not invite the Courts to address the more fundamental constitutional questions raised by the Council’s recent recourse to Article 122 TFEU.

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Israel: Cry, the Beloved Country

Israel, like many other democracies today, is a deeply polarized society. The operating principle of public discourse is typically: “Art thou for us or for our adversaries” (Joshua 5:13). It is thus telling that, in the recent eruption in response to Netanyahu’s new government plan to reform the judicial system, one sees groups whom one would have never expected on the anti-government side of the current protests.

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31 Januar 2023

The Long Road to Reproductive Justice

In North Macedonia, abortion law changes when the government does. The practices of the past years vividly demonstrate that abortion is not only a private matter but also a political issue. Depending on whether right or left-wing parties are in power, the law on abortion fluctuates between difficult-to-access and more liberal procedures.

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Adapt or Die?

The year 2022 will be remembered as one of ‘terrible violence and seismic change in Europe’, in the words of the High Level Reflection Group established by the Council of Europe to consider the organisation’s future. The Council of Europe has issued a public call for ideas, inviting input from international organisations, national human rights institutions, civil society organisations, academics, human rights defenders and others. The deadline for submissions is imminent – 20 February – and the need for radical thinking has never been greater.

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Battling the hydra in EU anti-discrimination law

Can a company refuse to conclude or renew a contract with a self-employed person because he is gay? And may contractual freedom prevail over the prohibition of discrimination in such a situation? A short answer stemming from the recent ECJ judgment in J.K. v. TP would be a resounding no. Yet, a further analysis is in order because the judgment also brings a significant shift in the ECJ’s anti-discrimination case law.

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30 Januar 2023

Daumenschrauben für den Gesetzgeber

Was haben Annalena Baerbock, Marco Buschmann und Gregor Gysi gemeinsam? Sie und 213 andere Bundestagsabgeordnete von Grünen, FDP und Linken waren Antragsteller einer abstrakten Normenkontrolle, welche sich gegen die Erhöhung der staatlichen Parteienfinanzierung richtete, die die damalige Große Koalition 2018 beschloss. Das Bundesverfassungsgericht hat diese Erhöhung nun für verfassungswidrig erklärt. Das Urteil vom 24.01.23 ist kein „drittes Parteienfinanzierungsurteil“, dafür mangelt es der Entscheidung an einem wirklichen inhaltlichen Umbruch. Neuland betritt das Gericht dann aber in der Folge durch die Herausarbeitung von prozeduralen und inhaltlichen Anforderungen an eine Erhöhung der absoluten Obergrenze.

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The Force of Social Mobilization

On December 30th, 2020, the Argentinean Congress legalized abortion up to the 14th week. Its legalization in Argentina took place after the rising of the so-called green tide in 2018, which transformed the longstanding movement for abortion rights in the country into a mass phenomenon, and the abortion issue, which used to be a taboo, into a main topic of public discussion. The new law has been challenged through judicial actions without success so far, and it has changed the conditions for the implementation of lawful abortions throughout the country.

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27 Januar 2023

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The Indian Supreme Court Collegium Picking its Battle

In an unprecedented move, the collegium of the Supreme Court of India on the 17th and 18th of January, 2023, passed resolutions calling out the executive’s delay in the judicial appointments of five advocates by publicly countering the government’s objections against their appointment. In this piece, I discuss how the Supreme Court collegium has confronted the discriminatory treatment of persons who openly identify as a part of the LGBTQIA+ community in the process of judicial appointments by standing up to the executive’s bullying. The piece also looks into how the collegium has confronted the union government’s attempt to suppress dissent among advocates and why these resolutions are highly consequential.

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Ein bisschen kleinlich

Nachdem es um die Parteienfinanzierung bald dreißig Jahre schon fast verdächtig still geworden war, hat das Bundesverfassungsgericht mit seinem Urteil vom Dienstag dieser Woche erneut ein Ausrufezeichen gesetzt. Das Gericht kippte den Aufschlag, den der Gesetzgeber den Parteien mit dem Gesetz zur Änderung des Parteiengesetzes und anderer Gesetze vom 10. Juli 2018 genehmigt hatte; dadurch war das Gesamtvolumen der staatlichen Zuwendungen nach § 18 II PartG von 165 auf 190 Millionen Euro erhöht worden. Das Ergebnis war von meisten Beobachtern und auch von den Parteien selbst so vorhergesehen worden, aber die Begründung fiel am Ende doch anders aus als noch vor der mündlichen Verhandlung erwartet.

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No New Rights in Fedotova

In Fedotova and others v Russia issued on 17 January 2023, the ECtHR held that Russia had breached its positive obligation to secure the applicants’ right to respect for their private and family life under Article 8 of the Convention by failing to provide any form of legal recognition and protection for same sex couples. The ground-breaking aspect of the judgment is the clear rejection by the Court of the justifications advanced by the Contracting State.

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A Promising Future?

The Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act 92 of 1996 (Choice Act) provides the legislative framework that regulates access to abortion in South Africa. It is noted for its liberal stance on abortion and for this reason South Africa ‘serves as a global role model of reform in the area of abortion laws’. Despite its celebrated reproductive rights affirming approach, there are several on-ground issues that undermine the aims of the Act and the reproductive rights and health of those seeking abortion care. In this blog, I position the Choice Act within its historical and contemporary context which provides the necessary backdrop to demonstrate why the Act offers a ground-breaking approach to legislative regulation of abortion care. Thereafter, I explore some of the barriers to access and consider some key state efforts to overcome these issues, thus demonstrating a commitment to ensuring access to abortion care as part of the continuum of sexual and reproductive health care.

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26 Januar 2023

Niemand steht über dem (Klimaschutz-)Gesetz

Weil die Regierung trotz Zielverfehlung noch immer kein Klimaschutz-Sofortprogramm verabschiedet hat, klagt der Umweltverband Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland e.V. (BUND) nun vor dem OVG Berlin-Brandenburg auf Beschluss eines solchen. Die Klage gibt Anlass für eine nähere Betrachtung der rechtlichen Pflichten, die das Klimaschutzgesetz (KSG) für den Fall einer Zielverfehlung auferlegt. 

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Eigentumsverhältnisse sind antastbar

Die aktuellen Debatten um Kohleausstieg und Energiewende zeigen, dass Entscheidungen auf dem Gebiet der Energiewirtschaft hochpolitisch sind und nicht ohne Blick auf das Wohlergehen dieser sowie folgender Generationen gefällt werden können. Insbesondere die anhaltenden Proteste gegen den Braunkohleabbau unter Lützerath belegen, dass die privatwirtschaftliche Nutzung und Verwertung fossiler Energien zugunsten privater (Rekord-)Gewinne in Zeiten der Klima- und Energiekrise zunehmend auf Ablehnung stößt. Vermehrt werden daher auch Forderungen laut, private Profitinteressen aus den Entscheidungsprozessen auszuschließen und den gewonnenen Entscheidungsraum mit demokratisch legitimierter und gemeinwohlorientierter Unternehmenspolitik zu füllen.

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Constitutional but Criminal

In the last two years, India has witnessed significant changes in the legal regulation of abortion. In 2021, Parliament comprehensively amended the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (“MTP” Act) to ensure “access of women to safe and legal abortion without compromising on the safety and quality of care,” along with securing “dignity, autonomy, confidentiality and justice for women who need to terminate pregnancy.” Additionally, in September 2022, the Supreme Court of India delivered a path-breaking judgment on abortion, locating access to safe abortion within the fundamental rights to dignity, autonomy, privacy, and health. Despite these changes, the law and practice of abortion continue to deny pregnant persons access to safe and comprehensive abortion care.

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25 Januar 2023

Searching for a Government

On 21 January 2023, Slovak voters had the opportunity to use their constitutional right to vote in a referendum on a constitutional amendment on early elections. The referendum was, however, invalid, because a valid referendum in Slovakia requires a turnout of at least half of all eligible voters. The referendum took place less than six weeks after the no-confidence vote to the Slovak executive by the Slovak parliament. This development prompted steps towards amending the Constitution so that early elections become constitutionally permissible.

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War over Israel’s Judicial Independence

The new Israeli government wasted no time in initiating an all-out attack on the independence of the judiciary. It is promoting in full speed two parallel proposals to reform the judiciary in the hope that at least one of them, or a hybrid of both will be codified. The government claims that its proposed judicial reform will promote a more democratic and representative judiciary. Yet, a careful analysis of its proposed reform suggests that the government intends to fully politicize the judiciary. It will change the process of appointment to the Judicial Selection Committee, placing control in the hands of the government. Simultaneously, it will neutralize the ability of the opposition in the Knesset and the professional elites (the Justices and the Bar Association) to protect judicial independence from governmental takeover.

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