Reproductive and Sexual Health Rights

Subject LAWS40079 (2012)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2012.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 4 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2012.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: Two hours of seminars per week.
Total Time Commitment: 120 hours.

Legal Method and Reasoning; Principles of Public Law; Criminal Law and Procedure; Torts; Legal Theory; Constitutional Law; Administrative Law; or in each case their equivalent.

Corequisites: None.
Recommended Background Knowledge: Prior study in International Law and/or Human Rights Law is desirable.
Non Allowed Subjects: None.
Core Participation Requirements: For the purposes of considering requests for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills, and Assessment Requirements of this entry.

The University is dedicated to providing support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Melbourne Law School Student Centre
Tel: +61 3 8344 4475
Subject Overview:

This subject investigates law's role in protecting and promoting reproductive and sexual health rights in national and international contexts.

The subject first introduces relevant historical and contemporary influences on the development of a transnational concept of reproductive and sexual health rights and then reviews current perspectives and analytical frameworks.

This foundation enables us to examine selected case studies and assess a range of regulatory strategies that variously harm or protect reproductive and sexual health rights. The case studies will vary from year to year and may draw on the following areas of law: tort, medical, criminal,, public health, international and human rights law.

Case studies may be chosen from the following topics:

  • Obligations to ensure access to sex education, information and contraception;
  • HIV/AIDS, STIs: rights and regulatory frameworks;
  • Abortion and embryo destruction and 'foetal rights';
  • Wrongful birth and wrongful life;
  • Discrimination and service provision;
  • Reproductive technologies and genetic screening;
  • Female genital mutilation, circumcision and cosmetic surgery;
  • Reproductive and sexual health rights of selected ‘vulnerable’ populations.

This subject enables students to further develop their conceptual and social understanding of law and of law’s key role in regulating human societies and fostering health and well-being.

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the law’s role in protecting and promoting reproductive rights and sexual health;
  2. Apply analytical, critical, theoretical and evaluative skills to legal and social policy issues associated with reproductive rights and sexual health;
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the application and effects of the law in practice; and
  4. Demonstrate an awareness of the forces that affect policy formulation and law reform processes in relation to reproductive rights and sexual health.
  • Attendance and class participation in at least 75% of classes (hurdle)
  • Reflective essay of 1,500 words due during the semester (20%)

  • A research essay of 5,000 words due on the first day of the exam period (80%)

  • A final open-book, two-hour exam (80%)
Prescribed Texts: Printed materials will be available from the Melbourne Law School.
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

On completion of the subject, students should have developed the following generic skills:

  • Attitudes towards knowledge that include ethics associated with knowledge creation and usage;
  • The capacity for close reading and analysis of a range of sources including interdisciplinary sources and materials;
  • The capacity for critical and independent thought and reflection;
  • The capacity to analyse and solve problems, including through the evaluation of information and arguments;
  • The capacity to communicate an understanding of complex concepts and issues, both orally and in writing;
  • Intercultural sensitivity and understanding;
  • The capacity to design and undertake independent research.

In addition, on completion of this subject students should have developed the following skills specific to the discipline of law:

  • Case reading and analysis;
  • Statutory reading, interpretation and analysis;
  • Understanding of law reform processes and influences;
  • Understanding of interdisciplinary perspectives on law;
  • Ability to apply analytical perspectives to contemporary social problems.

The 5,000 word research essay in this subject is regarded as a substantial piece of legal writing for honours purposes.

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