This chapter covers some of the most controversial issues to be addressed by the ICPD and brought the Holy See and certain Catholic and Islamic States head-to-head with those who advocate or do not object to sexual and reproductive health programmes, including family planning, which may include abortion and contraception. This chapter contains five sections: reproductive rights and reproductive health; family planning; sexually transmitted diseases and HIV prevention; human sexuality and gender relations; and adolescents.
This chapter was the subject of lengthy and often heated discussion both in the informal sessions of the Main Committee and in a working group chaired by Hernando Clavijo (Colombia). On Wednesday, 7 September, delegates discussed the former paragraph 7.1 (now 7.2), which gives the definition of reproductive rights and reproductive health. The primary issue in this paragraph was the "right" of men and women to have access to methods of "fertility regulation." A number of delegations could not accept this because fertility regulation can be interpreted to include abortion. When consulted, the WHO confirmed that according to its working definition, fertility regulation includes family planning, delayed childbearing, the use of contraception, treatment of infertility, interruption of unwanted pregnancies and breastfeeding. The final compromise text reads: "Implicit in this last condition is the right of men and women to be informed and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning of their choice, as well as other methods of their choice for the regulation of fertility which are not against the law...."
During a lengthy debate on Saturday, 10 September, more than 70 delegates commented on the former paragraph 7.2 (now 7.3) on sexual and reproductive rights. Issues in this paragraph included: ambiguities in the first sentence on the relationship between sexual and reproductive rights and human rights; the use of the term "sexual rights;" and the right of "couples and individuals" to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children, as well as the right to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence. Many Central American and Muslim delegates called for deletion of the reference to "individuals." Zimbabwe pointed out that if the term "individuals" was deleted, it would remove the right of individuals to remain celibate and he did not think the Holy See would be happy about that. Furthermore, individuals should have the right to reject sexual advances because of AIDS, STDs or unwanted pregnancy. The Chair responded that the phrase "couples and individuals" has been accepted language since the 1974 Population Conference in Bucharest. He agreed that the individual right is as much about saying "no" as saying "yes." The compromise text for this paragraph reads: "...reproductive rights embrace certain human rights that are already recognized in national laws, international human rights documents and other relevant United Nations consensus documents. These rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. It also includes the right of all to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence...."
The compromise on this paragraph was reached only after agreement was secured on two other issues. A new paragraph 7.1 was added: "This chapter is especially guided by the principles contained in Chapter II, and in particular, the chapeau." The second agreement that led to the overall compromise, was that reproductive health care was defined to include sexual health. This led to the deletion of the term sexual health in many places in this chapter, as well as in the document as a whole.
Throughout the chapter, the term "fertility regulation" was replaced with "family planning" or "regulation of fertility." In former paragraph 7.43 (now 7.45), the issue of adolescent sexuality led to considerable debate within the working group. Whereas the old paragraph ensured that sexual and reproductive health information and care would be available to adolescents, while safeguarding their right to privacy, the new paragraph has an emphasis on the rights, duties and responsibilities of parents. The paragraph also states "...these services must safeguard the rights of adolescents to privacy, confidentiality, respect and informed consent, respecting cultural values and religious beliefs."
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