Right to Health, Reproductive Health and Family Planning

United Nations World Conference Documents

Vienna para. 41 The World Conference on Human Rights recognizes the importance of the enjoyment by women of the highest standard of physical and mental health throughout their life span. In the context of the World Conference on Women and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, as well as the Proclamation of Tehran of 1968, the World Conference on Human Rights reaffirms, on the basis of equality between women and men, a woman's right to accessible and adequate health care and the widest range of family planning services, as well as equal access to education at all levels.

ICPD Principle 8 – Everyone has the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. States should take all appropriate measures to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, universal access to health-care services, including those related to reproductive health care, which includes family planning and sexual health. . . . All couples and individuals have the basic right to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and to have the information, education and means to do so.

ICPD para. 7.2 . . . reproductive health therefore implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so. Implicit in this last condition are the right of men and women to be informed and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning of their choice, as well as other methods of their choice . . . ; para 7.45 [Reproductive and sexual health] services must safeguard the rights of adolescents to privacy, confidentiality, respect and informed consent, respecting cultural values and religious beliefs; para 7.46 Countries, with the support of the international community, should protect and promote the rights of adolescents to reproductive health education, information and care and greatly reduce the number of adolescent pregnancies. para 8.34 Governments should develop policies and guidelines to protect the individual rights of . . . persons infected with HIV and their families. Services to detect HIV infection should be strengthened, making sure that they ensure confidentiality.

Vienna para. 38 [T]he World Conference on Human Rights stresses the importance of working towards the. . . eradication of any conflicts which may arise between the rights of women and the harmful effects of certain traditional or customary practices, cultural prejudices and religious extremism; para. 49 The World Conference on Human Rights urges States to repeal existing laws and regulations and remove customs and practices which discriminate against and cause harm to the girl child.

ICPD para. 5.5 Governments should take effective action to eliminate all forms of coercion and discrimination in policies and practices. Measures should be adopted and enforced to eliminate child marriages and female genital mutilation.

Beijing para. 224 Any harmful aspect of certain traditional, customary or modern practices that violates the rights of women should be prohibited and eliminated.

Beijing para. 89 Women have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. The enjoyment of this right is vital to their life and well-being and their ability to participate in all areas of public and private life. Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity; para. 92 Women’s right to the enjoyment of the highest standard of health must be secured throughout the whole life cycle in equality with men; para. 96 The human rights of women include their right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. para. 223 [T]he Fourth World Conference on Women reaffirms that reproductive rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so; para 106(f) (referred to above); para. 107(e) [Governments should] [prepare and disseminate accessible information . . . designed to ensure that women and men, particularly young people, can acquire knowledge about their health, especially information on sexuality and reproduction, taking into account the rights of the child to access to information, privacy, confidentiality, respect and informed consent... para 106(g) [Governments should] [e]nsure that all health services and workers conform to human rights and to ethical, professional and gender-sensitive standards in the delivery of women’s health services aimed at ensuring responsible, voluntary and informed consent; [and] encourage the development, implementation and dissemination of codes of ethics guided by existing international codes of medical ethics as well as ethical principles that govern other health professionals.

Treaties

CESCR(1) article 10.2 Special protection should be accorded to mothers during a reasonable period before and after childbirth; article 12.1 The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; article 12.2 The steps to be taken by the States Parties to . . . achieve the full realization of this right shall include those necessary for: (a) The provision for the reduction of the stillbirth-rate and of infant mortality and for the healthy development of the child; . . . (d) The creation of conditions which would assure to all medical service and medical attention in the event of sickness.

CCPR(2) article 6 right to life and survival; (b) The right to security of person and protection by the State against violence or bodily harm . . .; article 7 No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; article 24 – equal rights with regard to health;
article 37 (b-d)
– right to liberty and security of the person. article 17.1 No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his [sic] honour and reputation; article 17.2 Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

CEDAW(3) article 2 (f) [States Parties undertake] [t]o take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices which constitute discrimination against women[.];
article 5 (a) [State Parties shall take all appropriate measures] [t]o modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women[.]; article 10 (h) [States Parties shall ensure] [a]ccess to specific educational information to help to ensure the health and well-being of families, including information and advice on family planning;
article 11(1) (f) the right to protection of health and to safety in working conditions, including the safeguarding of the function of reproduction;
article 12.1 States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning; article 12.2 States Parties shall ensure to women appropriate services in connection with pregnancy, confinement and the post-natal period, granting free services where necessary, as well as adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation; article 14.2 States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in rural areas [and] ensure to such women the right: . . . (b) To have access to adequate health care facilities, including information, counseling and services in family planning[.];
article 16 (b) the same right to freely choose a spouse and to freely enter into marriage with their free and full consent; (e) The same rights to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights[.]

CERD(4) article 5 States Parties undertake to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination in all it forms and to guarantee [to] everyone . . . . (b) The right to security of person and protection by the State against violence or bodily harm . . .; (e)(iv) the right to public health, medical care, social security and social services.

CRC(5) article article 16.1 No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation; article 16.2 The child has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks;
24.1 States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services; article 24.2 States Parties shall pursue full implementation of this right and, in particular, shall take appropriate measures: (a) To diminish infant and child mortality; . . . (d) To ensure appropriate pre-natal and post-natal health care for mothers; . . . (f) To develop preventive health care, guidance for parents and family planning education and services; article 24.3 States Parties shall take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children.

MWC(6) article 28 – Migrant workers and members of their families shall have the right to receive any medical care that is urgently required for the preservation of their life . . . article 43 – Migrant workers shall enjoy quality of treatment with nationals of the State in relation to … (e) access to social health and services …

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1. CESCR: International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

2. CCPR: Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

3. CEDAW: Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

4. CERD: International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

5. CRC: Convention on the Rights of the Child

6. MWC : Convention on Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families