Bodies on Trial: Reproductive Rights in Latin American Courts

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The judicial branch of government is essential to the viability and sustainability of any democracy. Judges make decisions every day that directly affect people's lives, influencing public perceptions of whether and how justice is being carried out. Each judicial decision is political and, collectively, courts' approach to interpreting and applying the law profoundly affects the protection of human rights.

In Latin America, in particular, where democracies remain fragile and governments' protection of human rights has been erratic, the courts must aspire to be guarantors of the human rights of all citizens. Close scrutiny of judicial decisions is needed to ensure that human rights, including reproductive rights, are vigilantly protected.

Bodies on Trial is a response to the need for this legal analysis. The original, Spanish-language book is the first comparative study of sexual and reproductive rights jurisprudence in Latin America. It describes the political, legal and judicial systems, and then examines the existing laws and high court decisions of the following five countries: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru.

Our research findings point to a tremendous gap between national and international human rights standards and their application in Latin American courts. Bodies on Trial documents a jurisprudential trend in the region in which judges interpret the law through moral and religious filters that perpetuate discrimination against women.

This summary of Bodies on Trial presents our research in an open and accessible manner.