K.L. v. Peru

CCPR/C/85/D/1153/2003, Communication No. 1153/2003
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K.L was a 17 year old pregnant woman who was denied an abortion despite complications in her pregnancy. The foetus was anencephalic. Peruvian abortion laws allowed abortions in case there was a danger to the life or health of the mother. Anencephalic condition posed a life-threatening risk to K.L. The baby died after four days of birth and K.L suffered from severe depression. K.L stated in her communication that denial of abortion services violated several human rights.



The Human Rights Committee held that Peru had violated the human rights, which included reproductive rights of K.L by denial of abortion services to her. The Committee stated that despite medical advice regarding termination of pregnancy, the denial of abortion services endangering the life of K.L was in contravention of International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights. Further the State failed in its obligation to provide special care to her (a minor) and she did not receive any psychological or medical support during or after her pregnancy.

The Committee also stated that by not acting in accordance with K.L’s wishes for receiving abortion services, the State party interfered arbitrarily in K.L’s private life.

The author also claims that, owing to the refusal of the medical authorities to carry out the therapeutic abortion, she had to endure the distress of seeing her daughter’s marked deformities and knowing that she would die very soon. This was an experience which added further pain and distress to that which she had already borne during the period when she was obliged to continue with the pregnancy. The author attaches a psychiatric certificate dated 20 August 2001, which confirms the state of deep depression into which she fell and the severe consequences this caused, taking her age into account. The Committee notes that this situation could have been foreseen, since a hospital doctor had diagnosed anencephaly in the foetus, yet the hospital director refused termination. The omission on the part of the State in not enabling the author to benefit from a therapeutic abortion was, in the Committee’s view, the cause of the suffering she experienced. The Committee has pointed out in its General Comment No. 20 that the right set out in article 7 of the Covenant relates not only to physical pain but also to mental suffering, and that the protection is particularly important in the case of minors. 6 In the absence of any information from the State party in this regard, due weight must be given to the author’s complaints. Consequently, the Committee considers that the facts before it reveal a violation of article 7 of the Covenant. In the light of this finding the Committee does not consider it necessary in the circumstances to made a finding on article 6 of the Covenant.(Para 6.3)

The author states that the State party, in denying her the opportunity to secure medical intervention to terminate the pregnancy, interfered arbitrarily in her private life. The Committee notes that a public-sector doctor told the author that she could either continue with the pregnancy or terminate it in accordance with domestic legislation allowing abortions in cases of risk to the life of the mother. In the absence of any information from the State party, due weight must be given to the author’s claim that at the time of this information, the conditions for a lawful abortion as set out in the law were present. In the circumstances of the case, the refusal to act in accordance with the author’s decision to terminate her pregnancy was not justified and amounted to a violation of article 17 of the Covenant.” (Para 6.4)

The author claims a violation of article 24 of the Covenant, since she did not receive from the State party the special care she needed as a minor. The Committee notes the special vulnerability of the author as a minor girl. It further note that, in the absence of any information from the State party, due weight must be given to the author’s claim that she did not receive, during and after her pregnancy, the medical and psychological support necessary in the specific circumstances of her case. Consequently, the Committee considers that the facts before it reveal a violation of article 24 of the Covenant. (Para 6.5)