forced pregnancy

Primary tabs

Forced pregnancy is defined as when someone becomes pregnant against their will and cannot easily access abortion care. Forced pregnancy could be a war crime punishable by the International Criminal Court (ICC).  The crime has the following elements:

  • The perpetrator confined one or more individuals who were forcibly made pregnant, with the intent of affecting the ethnic composition of the population or otherwise violating international criminal law;
  • The conduct was associated with an armed conflict.

The U.N. Human Rights Council has acknowledged that denying abortion in rape cases causes severe psychological and physical harm that, in the sight of international law, it can be considered torture. See the Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

[Last updated in January of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]