Sexual and Reproductive Well being Is Basic to Reaching Common Well being Protection

A march on Worldwide Girls’s Day in Toulouse, France, on March 8, 2022. (Alain Pitton / NurPhoto by way of Getty Pictures)

World leaders will collect in New York Metropolis on Sept. 21 for the 78th session of the United Nations Common Meeting (UNGA) to assessment progress towards universal health coverage (UHC). They may face this vital second amid a hostile political local weather—sexual and reproductive well being (SRH) is being politicized and threatened (each within the U.S. and globally). Highly effective anti-rights teams are lobbying to limit entry to vital SRH companies and to exclude secure abortion care from well being and growth initiatives. How can advocates and activists harness this world convening to fight the anti-choice motion whereas defending and increasing SRH, together with entry to secure abortion?

The objective of UHC is to create simply and efficient well being methods that ship healthcare companies that cowl everybody, all over the place, no matter their means to pay. To be actually simply and efficient, any UHC package deal should embody complete SRH companies so that each one folks can totally defend their well being and train their proper to bodily autonomy and reproductive self-determination. When entry to abortion is restricted, many individuals are left unable “to determine whether or when they have children and may be forced to continue unwanted pregnancies or end pregnancies in dangerous and degrading ways.” 

We’ll by no means obtain UHC or understand the U.N.’s goal of ensuring health and well-being for all by 2030 with out securing equitable entry to SRH companies, together with entry to secure abortion care. Globally, unsafe abortion accounts for as much as 13 percent of maternal mortality—deaths which can be completely preventable with entry to secure and authorized abortion. On high of this, 9 million people do not receive the necessary care for complications, similar to hemorrhage or an infection, after an unsafe abortion—leading to completely preventable struggling and accidents, together with infertility. 

Simply as well being and well-being can’t be achieved with out complete SRH companies, UHC gives a vital pathway to unlocking equitable entry to SRH care. Many individuals face highly effective boundaries once they search SRH companies, together with value and geographic boundaries. Accessing secure abortion will be much more complicated: Abortion is criminalized or extremely restricted in lots of settings. Even when abortion is authorized, folks looking for abortion face stigma, healthcare staff might refuse to supply abortion care and secure abortion could also be excluded from routine SRH packages of care or insurance coverage schemes. Making certain that abortion is a core element of the essential SRH service package deal coated by UHC may go an extended option to guaranteeing reasonably priced abortion care is out there to each one that wants the service.  

Globally, gender fairness and reproductive justice advocates are elevating their voices to demand that SRH—and abortion care particularly—are included as a non-negotiable element of UHC. On the latest Girls Ship Convention held in Kigali, Rwanda, in July 2023, many advocates made an unapologetic call for abortion to be included in UHC.

They noted, “Abortion is a standard well being intervention in lots of nations … The worldwide well being system largely considers it as merely a medical process.”

Additionally they emphasised that the precise to bodily autonomy—“the right to govern one’s own body”—is the muse of gender equality. 

A key objective of UNGA this yr is advancing plans towards a more healthy world by UHC. Constructing on the momentum from Girls Ship, we name on world leaders to step up and clarify and robust commitments defining sexual and reproductive well being companies—together with secure abortion care—as non-negotiable elements of UHC.

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