This article critically reflects on current mainstream debate on abortion in international human rights discourse and the conception of life underpinning it. The public health focus on access to safe abortion which has dominated this discourse can be detected as committed to a fundamentally liberal idea of bounded and individual subjecthood which mirrors the commitments of the liberal right to life more generally. However, feminist challenges to this frame seeking to advance wider access to reproductive freedoms appear equally underpinned by a liberal conception of life. It is asserted that feminists may offer a more radical challenge to the current impasse in international debate on abortion by engaging with the concept of livability which foregrounds life as an interdependent and conditioned process. The trope of the ‘right to livability’ developed in this article presents a means to reposition the relation between rights and life and facilitate such radical engagement which better attends to the socio-political conditions shaping our interdependent living and being.
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- School of Law - Senior Lecturer
- The Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice