2009, a girl from Peru named L.C. demanded justice.
years earlier, she needed an abortion—had
a legal right to abortion—and was denied, suffering irrevocable harm. L.C.
wanted to hold an entire government accountable, her doctors responsible, for
failing her just when she needed their help most.
contacted a reproductive rights group in Peru called the Center for the
Promotion and Defense of Sexual and Reproductive Rights. That organization
called us, largely because of our
landmark victory on behalf of another victim of Peru’s oppressive abortion laws.
We vowed to defend L.C.’s human and legal rights, and bring her case all the
way to the United Nations.
This month, we won.
U.N. Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women condemned Peru
for violating L.C.’s human rights when she asked for and was denied a lawful
abortion. A groundbreaking precedent, it’s the first decision by a U.N.
committee demanding that a country protect women’s health and human rights by
changing its abortion laws.
it’s the first time the U.N. has called the denial of legal abortion what it
facts of L.C.’s case are horrifying: She was eleven when her life changed
forever. A man in her Lima neighborhood raped her. Repeatedly. For years. L.C.
was 13 when she found out she was pregnant—and discovered that Peru’s laws did
not allow for abortion in the case of rape or incest.
ashamed, hopeless, she flung herself off a neighbor’s roof and suffered a
crippling spinal injury. Doctors could have fixed some of the damage and
greatly improved L.C.’s future, but the operation likely would’ve terminated
So the doctors refused.
law is clear: A woman has the right to an abortion when it prevents “grave and
permanent harm to her health.” L.C.’s doctors broke that law.
what end? L.C. ultimately miscarried, and by then, surgery couldn’t heal her.
L.C. is a quadriplegic today—a victim first at the hands of a monster, and a
second time by the powers of an ideological government.
U.N.’s resounding affirmation of a woman’s right to abortion did more than
demand that Peru change its abortion laws so victims of rape and incest can get
an abortion. The U.N. will require Peru to establish a system that ensures
legal abortion services are truly accessible. And the state has to guarantee
that a woman can get an abortion when not having one threatens her life or
repercussions of this victory cannot be overstated. Women of Peru have vital
new protections, and are one step closer to the health, equality, dignity, and
reproductive autonomy that all women deserve.
the 25 percent of women across the globe who live in countries where abortion
is totally prohibited, or nearly so, the U.N.’s ruling offers a beacon of
hope—signaling a shift in thinking that’s gathering momentum as governments and
courts of international law worldwide increasingly recognize reproductive
freedom as a fundamental human right.
work, though, is far from done. L.C.’s tragedy unfolded despite our previous
victory in Peru, and despite the laws on its books that should have safeguarded
the very rights that L.C. was denied.
Center for Reproductive Rights will closely monitor the Peruvian government’s
response to this ruling—and we will hold them accountable for fulfilling the
requirements of the U.N.’s decision.
on international fronts requires a relentless effort for each incremental
victory followed by an unyielding determination to see new laws impact every
reach of their jurisdiction. But if L.C. has taught us anything, it’s that
courage, strength, and fortitude can win out in the end.
that, sometimes, one girl can change the world.
________________________________Celebrate this victory by making a gift on behalf of LC >,