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Opinion Pieces Respond To U.N. Special Rapporteur's Report On Reproductive Health Policies

Several opinion pieces respond to a report (.pdf) presented on Monday to the U.N. General Assembly by Arnand Grover, U.N. special rapporteur for the Right to Health, that “considers the impact of criminal and other legal restrictions on abortion; conduct during pregnancy; contraception and family planning; and the provision of sexual and reproductive education and information,” according to the report summary. The report also states, “Realization of the right to health requires the removal of barriers that interfere with individual decision-making on health-related issues and with access to health services, education and information, in particular on health conditions that only affect women and girls. In cases where a barrier is created by a criminal law or other legal restriction, it is the obligation of the State to remove it” (8/3).

  • In her “Global Health Blog,” Guardian health editor Sarah Boseley writes, “Arnand Grover says in a hard-hitting but carefully argued report that all states should provide safe and legal abortion services for [women] — as well as contraception.” She adds, “Grover will no doubt come under personal attack from some of those who are fundamentally opposed to abortion on ideological grounds, but what makes this an interesting report — and a powerful argument — is that it is based on a cool analysis of the impact of restrictive laws on women’s human rights” (10/24).
  • Lydia Duran, executive director of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development, and colleagues write in a TrustLaw opinion piece, “Feminists are heralding the report’s findings and recommendations for clearly stating links that women’s rights activists and health practitioners have understood for years — namely, that it is a combination of adequate resources; access to a full, integrated range of reproductive and sexual health services; removal of legal barriers; and intentional commitments by governments to upholding and ensuring rights that actually translates into positive health outcomes.” They add, “The Rapporteur is taking unprecedented steps and now governments and civil society must (continue to) do their part to fully protect, respect and realize women’s sexual rights and reproductive rights” (Duran et al., 10/24).
  • Marianne Mollmann, a senior policy adviser with Amnesty International, writes in an RH Reality Check opinion piece, “Restrictions on abortions just don’t work in that they don’t result in the desired outcome. … The truth of the matter is that abortion restrictions in law and policy have little if anything to do with how women and girls deal with their pregnancies” (10/20). RH Reality Check published two other pieces responding to the report, one from Luisa Cabal of the Center for Reproductive Rights and another from Meghan Doherty of Action Canada for Population and Development (10/25).