Reproductive Rights

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A number of subtopics are included in the Reproductive Rights section:

Abortion:The right to have an abortion is one of the most controversial in international law. The abortion materials included on this site outline the controversy and identify the sources of the right to abortion under both human rights and humanitarian law.

Adolescents: Adolescents around the world have special reproductive and sexual rights, needs and concerns. These include issues such as early marriage, the right to know (access to information about sexual and reproductive health and rights), HIV/AIDS, and abortion.

Female Genital Cutting (FGC): Female genital cutting includes all procedures which involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-therapeutic reasons. Materials included discuss the international legal standards and international movements to eradicate female genital cutting.

HIV/AIDS: The sexual and economic subordination of women leaves them more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, less likely to receive appropriate care, and more likely to suffer discrimination because of their condition. Materials on HIV/AIDS discuss how the HIV/AIDS pandemic is affecting women's human rights, the international human rights laws which are applicable to the violations occurring, and the international response to these violations.

Reproductive Freedom: The International Conference on Population and Development (the Cairo Conference, 1996) testified to the centrality of reproductive self-determination to the dignity of women. Materials on this topic explore the meaning and importance of the right to "reproductive freedom" under international law.

Right to Know: Reproductive rights cannot be fully exercised unless women have sufficient information about their sexual and reproductive rights. Materials on this topic explore how the right to know under international law imposes a positive obligation on governments to provide information about reproductive health and choice, beyond the duty to refrain from interfering with the communication of such information by others.

Safe Motherhood: The rate of preventable maternal mortality is a symptom of the larger social injustice of discrimination against women and violation of women's human rights. The hundreds of thousands of avoidable maternal deaths each year serves as continuing evidence of the unstated presumption of many societies that the lives of mothers are expendable and that women do not matter. Materials included on this site examine how ensuring safe motherhood to reduce avoidable maternal death is not only a matter of effective health interventions, but also a matter of social justice.

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