On this Human Rights Day, the Center for Reproductive Rights urges the U.S. and governments around the world to guarantee the human rights and freedoms that women need to live with dignity and attain healthy and fulfilling lives.
Countries around the world are progressively recognizing that a woman must have reproductive freedom and access to basic healthcare in order to enjoy her human rights to self-determination, health, and life.
In May of this year, Nepal's Supreme Court ordered the country's government to set up an abortion fund for poor women so that no one is denied access to safe abortion due to their inability to pay. The Center helped develop and file the case, Lakshmi Dhikta v. Nepal, arguing that Nepal violated its human rights obligations under international treaties when it failed to ensure abortion was accessible .
Spain, meanwhile, is moving towards decriminalizing abortion during the first trimester and, in some circumstances, up to 22 weeks of pregnancy. Under the proposed reforms currently being debated in the country's parliament, abortion services would be covered by public funds and young women 16 and older would be able to seek abortions without parental consent . The Center wrote a strong letter of support for reform to the Spanish Government which can be read here >,
But while many other countries are enhancing the protection of women's lives and well-being, U.S. lawmakers are attempting to deprive American women of access to safe abortion services.
The healthcare debate currently raging in Congress has seen several proposals that would effectively ban abortion coverage for millions of women — coverage that women have today — undermining their health and human rights. The House passed one such amendment, the Stupak-Pitts amendment, in its healthcare reform bill, while the Senate voted just this week against the similar Nelson-Hatch amendment.
United States Congress members should heed the words of Colombia's Constitutional Court, which made history in 2006 when it declared Colombia's blanket ban on abortion unconstitutional. Women's sexual and reproductive rights, the court declared, "emerge from the recognition that equality in general, gender equality in particular, and the emancipation of women and girls are essential to society. Protecting sexual and reproductive rights is a direct path to promoting the dignity of all human beings, and a step forward in humanity's advancement towards social justice."
Without full respect and protection of women's reproductive rights, the promise of dignity and equality enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will not be fulfilled. It is time for the U.S. and the rest of the world to stand up for women's human rights .