Access to basic reproductive rights: global challenges

Sheelagh McGuinness , Heather Widdows

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If women are to have true equality with men, they must be able to control the number of children they have and the time of childbirth. Access to family planning services, particularly safe contraception and abortion, is key to this control and thus must be understood as basic reproductive rights. To disallow such access effectively bars women from attaining equality with men by denying minimal standards of bodily integrity. These rights must be understood not just in terms of noninterference but also in terms of ensuring an enabling environment to access to these services. International human rights norms are an important empowerment tool and are evolving towards protecting basic reproductive rights, but there is still more to be accomplished. An important threat to basic reproductive rights, which must be resisted, is the Global Gag Rule that prohibits funding to reproductive agencies which offer abortion services.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Reproductive Ethics
EditorsLeslie Francis
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780199981878
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2017


  • reproductive justice
  • reproductive rights
  • basic rights
  • human rights
  • equality
  • Global Gag Rule
  • abortion
  • contraception
  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights


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