Reproductive Rights as Human Rights: The Colombian Case
María Isabel Plata
Over the past 15-20 years, women in different parts of the world have taken up issues of reproductive health. Their concern has been to empower women to control their own fertility and sexuality with maximum choice and minimum health problems by providing information and alternative services, and by campaigning for women's right to make informed choices about their fertility, for improved services and for more appropriate technologies.1
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (the Women's Convention)2 is the major international treaty that protects the right of women to make their own decisions about their fertility and sexuality. Under the Women's Convention states are obligated to take all appropriate measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, including those forms that result from the lack of reproductive health services and education. Under this Convention, policy-makers, governments, and service providers have to see fertility regulation and reproductive health services as a way to empower women, and not as a means to limit population growth, save the environment, and speed economic development.
Women's enjoyment and exercise of reproductive rights and fundamental freedoms will become a universal fact when women everywhere are allowed to make their own decisions about their fertility and sexuality. Women need appropriate information and services, but new reproductive health policies are also required. New policies should require family planning services to address other aspects of women's reproductive health, like pregnancy care, sexuality, and reproductive