Wednesday, July 27, 2016

WHO Response to Zika Ignores Reproductive Rights

News Deeply (Jul. 18, 2016): Zika Spotlights Latin America's Reproductive Rights, by Christine Chung:

There is a disconnect between the World Health Organization's advice to women in Zika-threatened countries to refrain from reproducing and the fact that those same countries deny women reproductive choice as a matter of law.  Critics of the advice, including the United Nations working group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and practice, are calling for making contraception and safe abortion more widely available in Latin America.  According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human rights, failing to do so ignores the necessary human-rights response to the Zika epidemic.   

The statistics are stark:

Approximately 22 percent of women of reproductive age across Latin America have unmet needs for effective contraception. The region already has the highest rate of unintended pregnancy in the world – some 55 percent of pregnancies – due to the lack of access to reproductive healthcare and high incidences of sexual violence. Honduras, for example, has the highest rate of rape in the region, but maintains a total ban on abortion and emergency contraception.

Restrictive reproductive laws primarily affect women living in poverty.  Reproductive justice requires that governmental response to Zika place women and children at the center of the policy discussion.   

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