Assaults on women’s reproductive health & rights take many forms in Europe today. Barriers to safe abortion care are among the most problematic.
Sexual and reproductive rights are human rights. Governments have very clear obligation under international human right law to respect these rights. However, women in Europe still have these rights denied or restricted as a result of laws, policies and practices that ultimately reflect continuing gender stereotypes and inequalities.
Women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights cover:
– comprehensive sexuality education
– affordable and accessible contraception
– safe abortion
– quality maternal health care
There has been immense progress across the world and in Europe. However at the same time, perhaps because of that progress, we have begun to see backlash. Even where the law allows abortion, women face multiple obstacles to access it, including:
– Financial, social and practical barriers
– Denial of care and services
– Third-party authorisation, mandatory counseling and waiting periods
In December 2017, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe addressed a set of recommendations to European States to ensure all women’s sexual and reproductive rights. They focused in particular on women’s rights to life, freedom from torture and ill-treatment, health, privacy and equality.