Abortion & Human Rights

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Women have the right to decide whether she wants children or not, including with whom, when, how many and the gap time in between. This idea has evolved and changed over decades, until it is acknowledged as reproductive rights and is a part of the human rights. These rights are under protection of various international instruments and agreements.

For the first time, governments of many nations acknowledged the right of decision to reproduce under the “Proclamation of Teheran 1968”. Then, in 1979, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was the first international agreement on the human rights that explicitly mentioned Family Planning.

The concept of reproductive health has been around since the 1980s as a movement that does not focus only on population control, but also as a more holistic approach toward women’s health. The term “reproductive health” was first adopted during the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994. Using the term reproductive health was a major change in the idealization and approach toward numerous issues in regard to population control, and not only through contraception but also through safe sex, unwanted pregnancy, discrimination, and violence. Moreover, during this conference, there were 170 countries that acknowledge two important principles of reproductive and sexual health, which are: 1) that women empowerment and the improvement of their health and wellbeing become paramount in order to ensure sustainable development; and 2) reproductive rights cannot be separated from basic human rights, and not only within the scope of Family Planning.

The Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995 reaffirmed and strengthened the consensus reached during ICPD. This Conference produced the Beijing Platform of Action (BPoA). In the 1999, the General Assembly of the United Nations agreed that ‘…in circumstances where abortion is not against the law, such abortion should be safe.’

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