The United Nations says access to contraception is a universal human right that could dramatically improve the lives of women and children in poor countries.
It is the first time the U.N. Population Fund’s annual report explicitly describes family planning as a human right.
It effectively declares that legal, cultural and financial barriers to accessing contraception and other family planning measures are an infringement of women’s rights.
The report released Wednesday isn’t binding and has no legal effect on national laws.
Two investigations are under way into the death of a woman who was 17 weeks pregnant, at University Hospital Galway last month.
Savita Halappanavar (31), a dentist, presented with back pain at the hospital on October 21st, was found to be miscarrying, and died of septicaemia a week later.
Her husband, Praveen Halappanavar (34), an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, says she asked several times over a three-day period that the pregnancy be terminated. He says that, having been told she was miscarrying, and after one day in severe pain, Ms Halappanavar asked for a medical termination.
This was refused, he says, because the foetal heartbeat was still present and they were told, “this is a Catholic country”.
She spent a further 2½ days “in agony” until the foetal heartbeat stopped.
The dead foetus was removed and Savita was taken to the high dependency unit and then the intensive care unit, where she died of septicaemia on the 28th.
To quote the hospitals very own vision statement:
DIGNITY & RESPECT – Patients privacy, dignity, confidentiality and individual needs are respected. Staff are valued, supported, consulted and involved in decision-making. Diversity is valued and action taken to challenge intolerant attitudes and behaviour.