Human rights standards
Human Rights Standards
International human rights law has not yet explicitly addressed the specific issue of types of providers authorized to perform abortion services. However, numerous human rights protections support the issue of expansion of abortion providers. These rights include, the right to health and the right to life and the right to decide the number and spacing of children. Corresponding state obligations include ensuring the availability and accessibility of quality reproductive health care services and that health workers are adequately trained and have necessary skills to provide quality reproductive health care services. Expansion of abortion providers is particularly critical for vulnerable groups of women, such as poor women or those living in rural areas that have less access to health services and specialized providers, overall.
Treaty Monitoring Bodies General Recommendations/Comments (available in some or all of the official UN languages of Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Russian).
The following General Recommendations and Comments reflect state obligations in ensuring access to quality health care services that can be applied to the issue of expanding abortion providers.
- CEDAW General Recommendation 19 Violence against women (1992).
- States parties should ensure that measures are taken to prevent coercion in regard to fertility and reproduction, and to ensure that women are not forced to seek unsafe medical procedures such as illegal abortion because of lack of appropriate services in regard to fertility control.” (Para. 24(m)
- CEDAW General Recommendation 24, Women and health (1999).
- States have an obligation to eliminate barriers that women face in accessing health care services, including reproductive health care services, and to ensure women can access the full range of high quality, affordable health care. Barriers include, but are not limited to authorization requirements, distance from health facilities, costs, etc. States have a duty to ensure women's right to safe motherhood and emergency obstetric services and they should allocate to these services the maximum extent of available resources. The Committee states that the principle of equity demands that poorer households should not be disproportionately burdened with health expenses as compared to richer households. Additionally, the Committee recommends that States should ensure that the training curricula of health workers include comprehensive, mandatory, gender-sensitive courses.
- Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 14, The right to the highest attainable standard of health (2000).
- The right to health in all its forms and at all levels contains the following interrelated and essential elements: (a) Availability. Functioning public health and health-care facilities, goods and services, as well as programmes, have to be available in sufficient quantity within the State party. They will include…hospitals, clinics and other health-related buildings, trained medical and professional personnel receiving domestically competitive salaries, and essential drugs, as defined by the WHO Action Programme on Essential Drugs. (b) Accessibility. Health facilities, goods and services have to be accessible to everyone without discrimination on any of the prohibited grounds, they must also be physically accessible, especially to vulnerable populations, such as adolescents, and in rural areas. Health facilities, goods and services must also be economically affordable for all. (c) Acceptability. They must also be acceptable to all and be respectful of medical ethics and sensitive to gender and life-cycle and be culturally appropriate, and respect confidentiality. (d) Quality. Health facilities, goods and services must also be scientifically and medically appropriate and of good quality. This requires, inter alia, skilled medical personnel, scientifically approved and unexpired drugs and hospital equipment, safe and potable water, and adequate sanitation. (Para. 12)
- Ensuring availability of health services and providing appropriate training for health personnel is a state obligation under the right to health. (paras. 26 and 44).