Date of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Human Rights Studies and Public Policy and Law

First Advisor

Benjamin Carbonetti


Human rights advocates often argue their primary power is that claiming them and deploying human rights rhetoric adds legitimacy and authority to a cause. Yet our understanding of if, how, and why human rights language is used in the political struggle for equality is incomplete. In this thesis I examine the key question of the use of human rights rhetoric and claiming by activists and governmental actors via the struggle for reproductive rights, especially for access to abortion. Through a comparative case study of the United States, the Netherlands, and Germany, this paper finds that legislative bodies tend to utilize fundamental rights language, while abortion rights activists center their arguments using human rights language. However, the Netherlands offers a partial exception in the way its members of parliament so concretely take a stance on abortion not only as a fundamental right, but a human right as well.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College, Hartford CT for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Human Rights and Public Policy & Law.