IFHHRO | Medical Human Rights Network promotes health-related human rights, including the right to health. Our focus is on the important role of health professionals.

We believe that there lies a huge potential in the health professions that could be mobilized for the promotion and protection of human rights.

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IFHHRO’s online Human Rights for Health Workers training manual: training sessions in four languages


Steps for Change

How to use human rights to address problems in your own healthcare institution


Voices in the Field

Experienced professionals in the field of health on the role of human rights in their careers



DAFOH Newsletter

The latest issue of the DAFOH Newsletter has just appeared. This newsletter offers information on the issue of forced organ harvesting in China. Since 2006, a large amount of evidence on the practice of systematic government-sanctioned involuntary organ removals from incarcerated victims – who are primarily Falun Gong practitioners – has been collected and published. Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) raises awareness about this practice.

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New Topic: Sustainable Development Goals

Today, we published a new article in the Topics section on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  In this article, our volunteer Somaya Bahji describes how the SDGs relate to the right to health, which SDGs are of particular importance for fulfilling the right to health, and which population groups are disadvantaged in this regard.

Go to Topics | Sustainable Development Goals


Abortion, health and gender stereotypes

On 20 May 2019, Lucia Berro Pizzarossa obtained her PhD on the subject of abortion. Worldwide, countries have responded differently to abortion from a legal perspective, ranging from the complete criminalization of abortion to the regulation of the procedure as a health issue. What do these laws mean from a human rights perspective?

Berro Pizzarossa concludes that certain models for abortion law, which are widely praised and featured as liberal, often fail to comply with human rights. In her thesis, she compares the legal sitations in Uruguay and South Africa. By critically analysing the ‘requirements’ set by these laws, and the stereotypes that emerge from parliamentary debates, this thesis unveils the myriad of human rights violations that often go unseen, and are currently inadequately addressed under international human rights law.

Right to abortion

Berro Pizzarossa shows, among other things, the strong influence of various forces – religious entities and conservative states – that systematically obstruct the right to abortion within the framework of the UN. She also shows that when the topic of abortion was introduced into the international human rights framework, it was not intended to regulate fertility nor was seen as a legitimate aspect of reproductive healthcare, but as something to be prevented, something that should always be on the agenda. Something that was “wrong” somehow. A groundbreaking outcome of this research, according to Berro Pizzarossa.

The most important conclusion of the study is that the prevailing legal approach to abortion is fundamentally anti-abortion. Even in a liberal setting, women may only undergo abortion with the permission of the state apparatus, which requires the involvement of one or more doctors and other professionals. In a certain sense, abortion is always “wrong” in social discourse: abortion – both for parliamentarians who are for or against – is an exceptional decision that would be made out of despair or egoism. Sometimes it is even seen as a decision that women cannot make on their own because they are not adequately equipped to do so.

According to Berro Pizzarossa, the international human rights framework requires that this approach be abandoned. She argues for decriminalization, de-medicalization and de-stereotyping of abortion.

Thesis:  Berro Pizzarossa, L. (2019). Abortion, health and gender stereotypes: a critical analysis of the Uruguayan and South African abortion laws through the lens of human rights. [Groningen].

Source: University of Groningen website