Mujer SaludHable Newsletter, Year X, No. 11, November 2011


Laws that Criminalize Abortion Violate Women’s Human Right to Health

A Declaration from Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Networks, Coalitions, Groups and Organizations

On August 3, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly received the interim report prepared by Anand Grover, the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, in accordance with Human Rights Council resolutions 15/22 and 6/29.

The interim report of the Special Rapporteur, entitled “The human right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health,” addresses international human rights law and the right to sexual and reproductive health as well as the impact of criminal laws and other legal restrictions on sexual and reproductive health, with an emphasis on the practice of abortion. The Special Rapporteur also considers conduct during pregnancy, contraception and family planning and the provision of sexual and reproductive education and information. The report specifically indicates that “some criminal and other legal restrictions in each of those areas, which are often discriminatory in nature, violate the right to health by restricting access to quality goods, services and information. They infringe human dignity by restricting the freedoms to which individuals are entitled under the right to health, particularly in respect of decision-making and bodily integrity.”

Furthermore, the report adds: “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” (emphasis added). Therefore, in its recommendations, the report maintains that States can and should take the necessary measures ensure full enjoyment of the right to health by all, without for the exception, and ensure that no barriers, such as those indicated above, hinder the full and effective exercise of this right.

The undersigned networks, coalitions, groups and organizations – historically committed to an agenda that promotes and defends the right to health as a human right and as a social good for all women, free from discrimination based on age, socio-economic status, race or ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity, religious belief, place of residence, disability, health status or any other characteristic – enthusiastically and wholeheartedly applaud the spirit of this document, which is the result of efforts by high-level experts, developed with complete independence from any government or religious or ideological position.

As a result, we embrace this report as an indispensable tool for political action and citizen monitoring efforts, with which to challenge the governments of Latin American and Caribbean, demanding that they ensure the best possible conditions for the exercise of the right to health with dignity and integrity, free from all forms of violence, coercion or discrimination.

And finally, we draw attention to the fact that at the presentation of this report only the Argentinean delegation to the UN expressed active support for its content, including the content on abortion and the recommendations calling for the revision of laws that criminalize the interruption of pregnancy, while the rest of the Latin American and Caribbean delegations failed to express their support and some even rejected the recommendations on this particular issue, demonstrating their unwillingness to recognize the critical and urgent needs of women in terms of of sexual and reproductive autonomy and voluntary motherhood.

These reactions clearly demonstrate that even in the 21st century, the women’s right to comprehensive health care, especially for women who are poor, adolescent, indigenous, of African descent, of different sexual identities, immigrants, residents of rural areas, HIV +, displaced, victims of violence, etc., these women are still overlooked in the hot national and regional debates of today and in public policymaking in our countries, which must not fail to guarantee women's human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Santiago, Chile, November 2011

Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Health Network, LACWHN

Alianza Nacional, Bolivia

Alianza Nacional por el Derecho a Decidir, Mexico

Articulación Feminista Marcosur

Articulación Feminista por la Libertad de Decidir, Chile

Asociación Milenia Comunicaciones, Peru

Base Educativa y Comunitaria de Apoyo, BECA, Paraguay

Campaña 28 de Septiembre por la Despenalización del Aborto en América Latina y el Caribe

Campaña 28 de Septiembre por la Despenalización del Aborto, Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Campaña 28 de Septiembre por la Despenalización del Aborto, Punto Focal Nicaragua

Campaña 28 de Septiembre por la Despenalización del Aborto, Punto Focal Chile

Campaña Nacional por el Derecho al aborto legal, seguro y gratuito, Argentina

Campaña por una Convención Interamericana de los Derechos Sexuales y Derechos Reproductivos

Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir, Bolivia

Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir, Chile

Centro de la Mujer Peruana “Flora Tristán”, Peru

Centro de Investigación para la Acción Femenina, CIPAF, Dominican Republic

CLADEM, Honduras

Colectiva Mujer y Salud, Dominican Republic

Coletivo Feminino Plural, Brazil

Colectivo Cons-pirando, Chile

Colectivo Feminista Mujeres Universitarias, Honduras

Colectivo Juvenil “DECIDE,” Bolivia

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, IGLHRC

Comité de Servicio Chileno, COSECH

Comunicación, Intercambio y Desarrollo Humano para América Latina A. C., CIDHAL, Mexico

Coordinación de Mujeres del Paraguay (CMP)

Diálogos Feministas, Bolivia

Educación Popular en Salud, EPES, Chile

El Closet de Sor Juana, Mexico

Equidad de Género, Ciudadanía, Trabajo y Familia, Mexico

Equifonia, Colectivo por la Ciudadanía, Autonomía y Libertad de las Mujeres, Mexico

International Planned Parenthood Foundation, Western Hemisphere Region, IPPF/WHR

Feministas en Resistencia, Honduras

Foro de Mujeres y Políticas de Población, Mexico

Foro de Mujeres por la Igualdad de Oportunidades, Salta, Argentina

Foro Red de Salud y Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos, Chile

Fundación Arcoiris por el respeto a la diversidad sexual, Mexico

Fundación para el Estudio e Investigación de la Mujer, FEIM, Argentina

Gestos- HIV, Comunicação e Genero, Brazil

International AIDS Women's Caucus, IAWC

Instituto de la Mujer, Chile

Isis Internacional, Chile

Kolektiva Rebeldías Lésbicas, Peru

La Ciudad de las Diosas, Chile

Mesa por la Vida y la Salud de las Mujeres, Colombia

Movimiento pro Emancipación de la Mujer Chilena, MEMCH, Chile

Mujer y Salud en Uruguay, MYSU

Observatorio de Sexualidad y Política, Brazil

Observatorio de Equidad de Género en Salud, Chile

Red Chilena contra la Violencia Doméstica y Sexual, Chile

Red de Educación Popular entre Mujeres para América Latina y el Caribe, REPEM

Red Dominicana por la Salud de las Mujeres, Dominican Republic

Red Latinoamericana de Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir

Red Mujer y Hábitat de América Latina

Red Nacional de Mujeres, Colombia

Rede Feminista de Saúde, Direitos Sexuais e Direitos Reprodutivos, Brazil

SI MUJER, Nicaragua

SI Mujer, Cali, Colombia

Solidarité Fanm Ayisyen (SOFA), Haiti

Tierra Viva, Guatemala

To support this declaration, contact LACWHN’s Coordinating Office at secretaria@reddesalud.org