K.L. (2001) – Peru

Teenager with anencephalic fetus denied abortion, forced to give birth and suffer

K.L., a 17-year-old, was pregnant with an anencephalic fetus, which severely compromised her life by endangering her physical and psychological health. Although Peruvian abortion law permits abortion when the life or health of the woman is in danger, K.L. was denied an abortion by hospital staff and had to deliver the baby and breastfeed her for the four days she survived. K.L. said that the experience of being forced to carry the fetus to term and seeing “her daughter’s marked deformities and knowing that her life expectancy was short” as akin to an “extended funeral.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee, arguing that what K.L. endured was a clear violation of international standards prohibiting violence against women, and constituted cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by state officials. On November 17, 2005, the UN Human Rights Committee rendered its decision, establishing that denying access to a legal abortion in the case of K.L. v. Peru constituted a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The ruling specifically establishes violations to the right to be free from cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment (Art. 7), privacy (Art. 17), and special protection of the rights of a minor (Art. 24), among other things.

KL v. Peru (United Nations Human Rights Committee)  Center for Reproductive Rights
United Nations Human Rights Committee decision, Nov 22, 2005.