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WHO inclusion of abortion as “Sexual Health”

A new report by the World Health Organization’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research (RHR) – Sexual Health, Human Rights and the Law – includes access to abortion and contraception as a critical part of “sexual health” —

A footnote explains, “Some of the dimensions of sexual health overlap with what is classically included under reproductive health.

“Contraception and abortion in particular are frequently counted as part of reproductive health. They are included in this report on sexual health precisely because they are about NOT reproducing, but they are directly connected to sexuality and sexual activity.”

A broad spectrum of issues related to sexuality and sexual identity are also included; all are presented as human rights with commentary on how existing laws must be changed to accommodate these issues.

The report reviewed existing laws, court decisions, recommendations by UN treaty monitoring bodies, international consensus documents, and reports by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health.

These are cited in an attempt to create new “human rights standards” to advance abortion and others issues identified as part of “sexual health”.

Laws restricting or regulating abortion are opposed and described as “likely to have serious implications for health”; laws requiring parent consent for abortion are opposed.

The non-registration and unavailability of the abortion inducing drugs mifepristone and misoprostol are considered “barriers to access”.

Other “barriers” to abortion access include:

“Another major barrier to sexual health services in some countries is the refusal by some health-care providers to provide sexual and reproductive health services on grounds of conscientious objection.

“The availability of health-care facilities and trained providers within reach of the entire population is essential to ensuring access to sexual health services.

“Some national laws stipulate that only doctors can perform certain services. In the area of sexual health, many services do not necessarily have to be provided by a physician, but can be competently provided by nurses, midwives or auxiliary nurses.”

Not only are laws and regulations on abortion presented as “barriers” to be removed but access to “sexual health” needs to be “integrated as part of primary health care or provided as standalone services, to address the most significant sexual health problems and concerns of the particular country, district or region.”

The proposed Sustainable Development Goal on health includes Target 3.7 which also seeks to include sexual and reproductive health in primary health care.

It states: “By 2030 ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes.”

PNCI urges a careful reading of this report to best understand the vast agenda of “sexual health”.

[Focus on the United Nations, Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues, 13 July 2015, ]