United Nations: “Access to contraception is a human right”


Via Think Progress and CBS, the UN has explicitly called family planning a human right for the first time.

“Family planning has a positive multiplier effect on development,” Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the fund, said in a written statement. “Not only does the ability for a couple to choose when and how many children to have help lift nations out of poverty, but it is also one of the most effective means of empowering women. Women who use contraception are generally healthier, better educated, more empowered in their households and communities and more economically productive. Women’s increased labor-force participation boosts nations’ economies.”

The report effectively declares that legal, cultural and financial barriers to accessing contraception and other family planning measures are an infringement of women’s rights.

This comes hot on the heels of a scientific study of the affects of denying abortion. As it turns out, the longitudinal study found that women who are denied abortions are three times more likely to end up in poverty two years later, and that there are no mental health consequences associated with having an abortion as compared to carrying a baby to term.

That’s right — just like we’ve been saying all along, it is far more distressing to a woman’s physical, mental, and financial well-being to carry an unwanted baby to term than to have an abortion or, better yet, to not have the unplanned pregnancy in the first place. While I fully agree that abortions should be “safe, legal, and none of your fucking business” (rather than “safe, legal, and infrequent”), abortions are a last resort for family planning that grants a woman veto rights over what happens to her own body — as it absolutely should and must be if we are to call ourselves a civilized society. The only pregnancies that are borne to term should be wanted pregnancies. Period.

And now the UN agrees that being able to plan your family is a basic human right. This puts the religiously motivated opposition to family planning and abortion in direct opposition to human rights. Just like with homosexuality, just like with slavery, just like with treating women as chattel, just like with condemning people to death for disagreeing with their dogmas, just like every other civil rights fight religion ever finds itself engaged in. What a surprise that religion would be wrong yet again.

Comments

  1. says

    From the OP:

    it is far more distressing to a woman’s physical, mental, and financial well-being to carry a baby to term than to have an abortion or, better yet, to not have the unplanned pregnancy in the first place

    While I suspect that you meant to have the word “unplanned” before the word ‘baby’, I dare say that even in the case of planned pregnancies & wanted children, the pregnancy & childcare that follows is more distressing to a woman’s physical, mental & financial well being than not having the pregnancy in the first place.

    (Speaking from first-hand, if admittedly anecdotal, experience.)

  2. says

    The study was only of turnaways, women denied abortions, so I don’t actually know how things turn out for wanted pregnancies. I would presume that women capable of supporting babies financially and emotionally are much more likely to plan to have them, so yeah. I’ll insert the intended “unwanted”, to your point, composer99.

  3. Apparently Not Erin says

    An even better distinction would have been “unwanted” as opposed to “unplanned”. Both of my little guys were unplanned, but that didn’t turn them into horrible stress-inducing, money sucking monsters. Granted, I knew the possible outcomes of my actions and was prepared to live with and love them. Unplanned pregnancies can be stressful if the parents want children but are currently unable to take care of them. In which case, better access to birth control really is a must.

    Sadly, it’ll take a long time for the rest of the world to fall in line. The UN calling family planning a human right doesn’t obligate countries to provide contraception and education – yet.

  4. katkinkate says

    The UN declaration does give people fighting for reproductive/contraceptive rights another justification to put on their signs. It also adds a subtle pressure to governments not in line with it.

  5. Steve R says

    “…it is also one of the most effective means of empowering women.” That, behind the “Pro-Life” smokescreen, is the reason for the virulent opposition of the patriarchal religions to contraception and abortion. There was a time when the cult of Abraham was a local phenomenon, relatively harmless. Then a gang of zealots, exact motive unknown, weaponized it into a memetic plague that has probably caused more death and misery than all of the microbiological plagues combined.

  6. B-Lar says

    Bangerang. Damned good start.

    Already there are squeals of indignance like this:

    “The UNFPA sees nothing wrong with forcing believers around the world to give up their deeply held, long-established religious convictions in order to grant someone else’s far-fetched, newly minted ‘human right.’”

    There was once a time when the sewer system was considered “far-fetched” and derided as an expensive uneccesary fad. These people will be dragged kicking and screaming into the future, and I will love every second of it.

  7. Blobulon says

    From the CBS news site:
    “The U.N. doesn’t count abortion among the measures.”

    Still a great step in the right direction.

  8. bradleybetts says

    @B-Lar

    I hate that line of reasoning. “Pro-Abortionists want to make us give up our religion! Waah!” When will believers understand that the right to practice your religious beliefs does not include the right to force them on others?

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