The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe—the main human rights watchdog for the continent—released a new report on women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Releasing the report, Nils Muižnieks, the Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe, bravely stated that “women’s sexual and reproductive rights are human rights” and called on European governments to take robust action to safeguard these fundamental human rights.
The report highlights the recent attempts to rollback reproductive health gains and the Commissioner calls on European governments to prevent the introduction or passage of any regressive policies meant to hinder access to reproductive health care.
Said Leah Hoctor, regional director for Europe at the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“Sexual and reproductive rights are human rights. To truly achieve gender equality, we must ensure that every woman can access the full range of reproductive health services.
“European governments need to put an end to the discriminatory practices and barriers that threaten access to reproductive health care.
“We commend the Commissioner for Human Rights for prioritizing women’s sexual and reproductive rights and calling on governments to do better.”
The report provides an extensive overview of central sexual and reproductive health and rights shortfalls that continue to affect women in Europe. He lists strong recommendations in the report for European governments, including:
- Reaffirm commitments to women’s human rights and gender equality and guard against retrogressive measures that undermine women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights
- Invest in women’s sexual and reproductive health and establish a health system designed to advance women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights
- Ensure the provision of comprehensive sexuality education
- Guarantee the affordability, availability and accessibility of modern contraception
- Ensure all women’s access to safe and legal abortion care
- Ensure that refusals of care by health care workers do not jeopardize women’s timely access to sexual and reproductive health care
- Respect and safeguard women’s human rights in childbirth and guarantee all women’s access to quality maternal health care
- Eliminate coercive practices and guarantee women’s informed consent and decision making in sexual and reproductive health care contexts
- Ensure all women’s access to effective remedies for violations of their sexual and reproductive health and rights
- Eliminate discrimination in law and practice including intersectional and multiple forms of discrimination and guarantee equality for all women in the enjoyment of sexual and reproductive health and rights
The Center for Reproductive Rights has worked extensively in Europe to advance women’s reproductive health and rights. The Center uses law to advance access to reproductive health care, including affordable contraception, safe and legal abortion, quality maternal health care and to end discrimination against women in reproductive health care settings.