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Case Studies

Women's rights

Teachers and students can use these case studies to explore how healthcare outcomes and human rights are interdependent. Although each case is introduced with single human rights competency and healthcare problem, each is much more complex. They are designed to be used with the checklist for healthcare quality and the Five Key Questions for Human Rights and Women’s Health.

The ten case studies listed on this page are presented in two forms, a case study for discussions with students of women’s health and rights and a discussion guide for teachers and facilitators. The discussion guide includes references for the various conditions and human rights addressed by the cases; many of the references are linked to internet sites. Each may be printed out as a PDF for in-class use.

Note that the guides do not address every law, custom, and practice in the world but focus upon those that are established as general practice and are supported by scientific evidence and established legal and ethical principles. By exploring these issues, the authors hope that the understanding of the relationships between human rights and quality health care will increase and improvements in women’s lives around the world will follow.

Case Title Teaching Material (PDF) Case Content

Human rights focus

Medical Issues

The last pregnancy – dire consequences of denial of care

Case Study 1

Discussion guide 1


Incomplete abortion, emergency care

Contraceptive of choice

Case Study 2

Discussion guide 2



The clinic lacks privacy

Case Study 3

Discussion guide 3


Patient comfort; teaching clinic

Protecting confidentiality

Case Study 4

Discussion guide 4


HIV screening

No easy choices for a pregnant teenager

Case Study 5

Discussion guide 5

Autonomy in health care decision-making

Unplanned pregnancy; abortion

The illness of withholding information

Case Study 6

Discussion guide 6


Pelvic cancer; cultural beliefs

An unwelcoming birth facility

Case Study 7

Discussion guide 7


Postpartum hemmorhage

Repeatedly requesting sterilization

Case Study 8

Discussion guide 8

Decide number and spacing of children


Denial of dignity

Case Study 9

Discussion guide 9

Freedom from torture and inhuman treatment

Abortion, pain relief for surgical procedures

Multiple traumas— sexual assault and substandard care.

Case Study 10

Discussion guide 10

Enjoy benefits of scientific progress

Sexual assault