Morality, Legality, and Health: The Influence of the Grounds of Abortion Legality on Abortion-Related Health Issues

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Stories about the dangers of illegal abortions are incredibly common – so much so that a substantial literature concludes that, globally, when abortion is illegal, women’s health suffers both directly (from illegal abortions and pregnancy) and indirectly (from the impacts of poverty). This literature research program seems, however, to “stop at the door” of the legality of abortion – assuming that it is a first step to correcting these problems. Crossing research interests between gender and global politics and discrimination law, this chapter explores in whether the positive effects for women’s health are the same across abortion-legalizing countries. Particularly (controlling for poverty), this chapter explores the argument that both the degree of legality and the grounds on which abortion was legalized impacts upon the health results of legalization. Specifically, the project uses a comparative case study from Mozambique and Tanzania to argue women in states that use justifications which retain the taboo on abortion (such as privacy, health, rape, and third-party decision-making) get fewer health benefits from legalization than states which legalize abortion grounds that transgress the prohibition (women’s rights, labor issues). The chapter concludes with theoretical insights about the problem.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWomen’s Global Health
Subtitle of host publicationNorms and State Policies
EditorsLyn Boyd-Judson, Patrick James
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherLexington Books
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-7391-8889-7
ISBN (Print)978-0-7391-8888-0, 978-1-4985-2110-9
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • health
  • gender
  • law
  • abortion

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