Advancing health through rights: A new agenda for sexual and reproductive health and rights

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

young women playing with face paint

Accelerate Progress, a report published today in The Lancet, outlines a bold agenda to achieve universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Accelerate Progress emphasizes the need for national governments, international organizations, donors, civil society groups and key stakeholders to adopt a holistic approach to reproductive health services. This approach encompasses the “right of all individuals to make decisions about their bodies and lives—free of stigma, discrimination and coercion—and to have access to essential sexual and reproductive health services.”

“This is an important agenda and the way forward for organizations working in this field,” says Kathryn Andersen, Ipas’s Chief Technical and Scientific Officer and an advisory group member to the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. “We need to recognize that all individuals seeking reproductive health services must have bodily autonomy and the freedom to access reproductive health care whenever they need it, regardless of where they live.”

The Commission—a collaboration of global health, development and human rights experts from around the world—recommends that reproductive health services should meet global standards for medical ethics, public health and human rights, including the “availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality” framework of the right to health.

The agenda emphasizes that sexual and reproductive health and rights are inextricably based in human rights, and that all individual have the right to:

  • have their bodily integrity, privacy and personal autonomy respected
  • freely define their own sexuality, including sexual orientation and gender identity and expression
  • decide whether and when to be sexually active
  • choose their sexual partners
  • have safe and pleasurable sexual experiences
  • decide whether, when and whom to marry
  • decide whether, when and by what means to have a child or children, and how many children to have
  • have access over their lifetimes to the information, resources, services and support necessary to achieve all the above, free from discrimination, coercion, exploitation and violence

Accelerate Progress promotes a comprehensive reproductive health and rights agenda that “improves health and upholds human rights” for everyone.