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Reproductive rights before the European Court of Human Rights: States' discretion or European supervision?
Language: English This thesis is written in English
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Erisa Taraj, Università degli Studi di Firenze, 2014-15
Erisa Taraj
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In recent times the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR or Court) has issued a series of decisions concerning abortion and Medically Assisted Procreation (MAP). In light of significant technological progress in the field of medical practice, many questions regarding abortion and MAP choices arise.
The issue is particularly controversial for two main reasons:

1. Firstly, it involves different interests that may conflict between them. Indeed, these practices primarily concern not only the rights of the mother and of the unborn child, but have implications also on father's rights. Therefore, the following question arises: Whose rights should be given precedence?
2. Secondly, abortion and MAP are deeply linked to bioethical and morality issues. Morality has always been a debatable concept that implies multiple perspectives and consequently plural positions. Accordingly, also in this case another question arises. Which position should be considered the "right" one from an ethical point of view?

This dissertation has the main aim of analysing the question of abortion and MAP in the framework of protection of human rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR or Convention) and as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights. The Court, in dealing with abortion and MAP issues, has had to take into consideration these thorny questions. This has not been an easy task, considering the variety of European national legislations and moral stances in the field of reproductive rights.
The analysis of these questions will proceed as follows:
Chapter one illustrates the normative framework underpinning the protection of women's rights and those of the unborn according to the European Convention on Human Rights. It further focuses on the moral debates concerning respectively abortion and MAP.
Chapter two concentrates on the case-law of the ECtHR with regard to abortion. It analyses the Court's decisions with regard to this topic and with particular reference to Article 2 and Article 8 of the ECHR.
Chapter three focuses on the case-law of the Court with regard to MAP (in vitro fertilization, in vivo fertilization and surrogacy). Also in this case Art. 8 of the Convention will be the normative basis for the purposes of the analysis.
Finally, chapter four tries to give an answer to the questions posed by abortion and MAP in the light of Court's decisions in this field. Is there a "right to abortion"? Is there a "right to procreate"?
Moreover, the chapter deals with certain specificities that have emerged from the Court's approach towards abortion and MAP. The question about the effectiveness of the Court's role in the adjudication of reproductive rights will be further examined.