IFHHRO supports Special Rapporteur’s report on sexual and reproductive health

October 25, 2011

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Along with a group of national and international NGOs, IFHHRO signed a statement supporting the latest report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health.

Anand Grover’s 2011 annual report to the UN General Assembly focuses on the detrimental effects of criminalisation of sexual and reproductive health.

The drafting of the Civil Society Joint Statement was coordinated by Amnesty International. In his report, the Special Rapporteur considers the interaction between criminal laws and other legal restrictions relating to sexual and reproductive health and the right to health. He states that the right to sexual and reproductive health is a fundamental part of the right to health and that States must therefore ensure that this aspect of the right to health is fully realised. Issues discussed in the report are abortion; conduct during pregnancy; contraception and family planning; and the provision of sexual and reproductive education and information.

From the report’s summary

“Some criminal and other legal restrictions in each of those areas, which are often discriminatory in nature, violate the right to health by restricting access to quality goods, services and information. They infringe human dignity by restricting the freedoms to which individuals are entitled under the right to health, particularly in respect of decision-making and bodily integrity. Moreover, the application of such laws as a means to achieving certain public health outcomes is often ineffective and disproportionate.”

Excerpt from the Joint Statement, 24 October 2011

We believe this report is of fundamental importance in securing the right to health, in particular because:

  1. The report consolidates years of health and human rights legal analysis by many UN experts, who are mandated by UN Member States to promote the full and equal enjoyment of human rights by all persons. These studies jointly support the conclusion that criminal law is often an inappropriate tool for regulating sexual and reproductive health matters.
  2. The report uses empirical evidence compiled by UN technical agencies to support the conclusion that the misuse of criminal laws and punitive policies in the area of sexual and reproductive health cause disproportionate suffering for women; people engaging in same sex sexual conduct; people identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons; those living with HIV or AIDS; and other groups who already suffer discrimination.
  3. The report contains clear and detailed recommendations for States, including a call to immediately decriminalize abortion, ensure access to a full range of modern contraceptive methods, and facilitate access to full, complete, and accurate information on sexual and reproductive health.

Full text of the statement (PDF)

Special Rapporteur’s Report to the General Assembly (A/66/254) (available in six languages)

Article on the report (by Stephanie Schlitt, Amnesty International’s Researcher and Policy Advisor on Gender)