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Chapter VII: Reproductive rights and reproductive health - A. Reproductive rights and reproductive health


7.1. This chapter is especially guided by the principles contained in chapter II and in particular the introductory paragraphs.

Basis for action

7.2. Reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. Reproductive health therefore implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex lifeand 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 theirchoice for regulation of fertility which are not against the law,and the right of access to appropriate health-care services that will enable women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth and provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant. In line with the above definition of reproductive health, reproductive health care is defined as the constellation of methods, techniques and services that contribute to reproductive health and well-being by preventing and solving reproductive health problems. It also includes sexual health, the purpose of which is the enhancement of life and personal relations, and not merely counselling and care related to reproduction and sexually transmitted diseases.

7.3. Bearing in mind the above definition, reproductive rights embrace certain human rights that are already recognized in national laws, international human rights documents and other consensus documents. These 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, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. It also includes their right to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence, as expressed in human rights documents. In the exercise of this right, they should take into account the needs of their living and future children and their responsibilities towards the community. The promotion of theresponsible exercise of these rights for all people should be the fundamental basis for government- and community-supported policies and programmes in the area of reproductive health, including familyplanning. As part of their commitment, full attention should be given to the promotion of mutually respectful and equitable gender relations and particularly to meeting the educational and service needs of adolescents to enable them to deal in a positive and responsible way with their sexuality. Reproductive health eludes many of the world's people because of such factors as: inadequate levels of knowledge about human sexuality and inappropriate or poor-quality reproductive health information and services; the prevalence of high-risk sexual behaviour; discriminatory social practices; negative attitudes towards women and girls; and the limited power many women and girls have over their sexual and reproductive lives. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable because of their lack of information and access to relevant services in most countries. Older women and men have distinct reproductive and sexual health issues which are often inadequately addressed.

7.4. The implementation of the present Programme of Action is to be guided by the above comprehensive definition of reproductive health, which includes sexual health.

Objectives

7.5. The objectives are:

  1. To ensure that comprehensive and factual information and a full range of reproductive health-care services, including familyplanning, are accessible, affordable, acceptable and convenient to all users;
  2. To enable and support responsible voluntary decisions about child-bearing and methods of family planning of their choice,as well as other methods of their choice for regulation offertility which are not against the law and to have the information, education and means to do so;
  3. To meet changing reproductive health needs over the lifecycle and to do so in ways sensitive to the diversity ofcircumstances of local communities.

Actions

7.6. All countries should strive to make accessible through the primary health-care system, reproductive health to all individualsof appropriate ages as soon as possible and no later than the year 2015. Reproductive health care in the context of primary healthcare should, inter alia, include: family-planning counselling,information, education, communication and services; education and services for prenatal care, safe delivery and post-natal care, especially breast-feeding and infant and women's health care; prevention and appropriate treatment of infertility; abortion asspecified in paragraph 8.25, including prevention of abortion and the management of the consequences of abortion; treatment of reproductive tract infections; sexually transmitted diseases and other reproductive health conditions; and information, education and counselling, as appropriate, on human sexuality, reproductivehealth and responsible parenthood. Referral for family-planning services and further diagnosis and treatment for complications of pregnancy, delivery and abortion, infertility, reproductive tractinfections, breast cancer and cancers of the reproductive system, sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS should always beavailable, as required. Active discouragement of harmfulpractices, such as female genital mutilation, should also be an integral component of primary health care, including reproductive health-care programmes.

7.7. Reproductive health-care programmes should be designed toserve the needs of women, including adolescents, and must involve women in the leadership, planning, decision-making, management, implementation, organization and evaluation of services. Governments and other organizations should take positive steps toinclude women at all levels of the health-care system.

7.8. Innovative programmes must be developed to make information,counselling and services for reproductive health accessible to adolescents and adult men. Such programmes must both educate and enable men to share more equally in family planning and in domestic and child-rearing responsibilities and to accept the majorresponsibility for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

Programmes must reach men in their workplaces, at home and wherethey gather for recreation. Boys and adolescents, with the support and guidance of their parents, and in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, should also be reached through schools, youth organizations and wherever they congregate. Voluntary and appropriate male methods for contraception, as well as for theprevention of sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, should be promoted and made accessible with adequate information and counselling.

7.9. Governments should promote much greater community participation in reproductive health-care services by decentralizing the management of public health programmes and byforming partnerships in cooperation with local non-governmentalorganizations and private health-care providers. All types of non-governmental organizations, including local women's groups, trade unions, cooperatives, youth programmes and religious groups, should be encouraged to become involved in the promotion of better reproductive health.

7.10. Without jeopardizing international support for programmes indeveloping countries, the international community should, upon request, give consideration to the training, technical assistance, short-term contraceptive supply needs and the needs of thecountries in transition from centrally managed to market economies, where reproductive health is poor and in some cases deteriorating. Those countries, at the same time, must themselves give higherpriority to reproductive health services, including a comprehensiverange of contraceptive means, and must address their current reliance on abortion for fertility regulation by meeting the need of women in those countries for better information and more choiceson an urgent basis.

7.11. Migrants and displaced persons in many parts of the worldhave limited access to reproductive health care and may face specific serious threats to their reproductive health and rights. Services must be particularly sensitive to the needs of individual women and adolescents and responsive to their often powerlesssituation, with particular attention to those who are victims of sexual violence.

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