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Abortion Rights, Reproduction Rights, Self-Managed Abortion, Human Rights, Decriminalization, Abortion Law, Medico-Legal Paradigm, Feminist Activism


Abortion rights in international law have historically been framed within a medico-legal paradigm, the belief that regulated systems of legal and medical control guarantee safe abortion. However, a growing worldwide practice of self-managed abortion (SMA) supported by feminist activism challenges key precepts of this paradigm. SMA activism has shown that more than medical service delivery matters to safe abortion and has called into question the legal regulation of abortion beyond criminal prohibitions. This article explores how abortion rights have begun to depart from the medico-legal paradigm and to support the novel norms and practices of SMA activism in a transformation of the abortion field. Abortion rights as reimagined in SMA activism increasingly feature in human rights agendas related to structural violence and inequality, collective organising and international solidarity, and democratic engagement.