The Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights of Undocumented Migrants
Sexual and reproductive health is an essential component of human development and wellbeing through all phases of life. The right to sexual and reproductive health, as part of the right to health as well as the rights to privacy and security of the person, is well established in international human rights instruments that bind all EU member states. Within the EU, significant disparities exist in relation to undocumented migrants that are at odds with governments’ stated commitments to sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR). Undocumented migrants face a number of challenges undermining their SRHR, including disproportionately high maternal and infant mortality; limited access to contraception and pregnancy termination; and heightened levels of discrimination and gender based violence (particularly among women and LGBTI migrants, and migrant sex workers), including at the border, in transit and in detention. For undocumented migrants, access to basic health care, including sexual and reproductive health services, is the exception rather than the rule in the majority of EU member states. Limited entitlements exist for pregnant women who, in 21 member states, can access some form of maternity care, from delivery only to a full complement of reproductive services; and for HIV, for which free screening is available in 15 (and treatment available in 10) EU member states. But in the majority of EU member states, entitlements carved out for these particular groups are disconnected from the primary care system: only 10 member states provide some access to primary care, which is a vital portal into the public health system that ensures continuity and coordination of care, and is instrumental in supporting prevention eﬀorts through the provision of information, and in the case of pregnancy, of contraception and family planning counseling. Undocumented migrants in the EU face several significant obstacles to achieving sexual and reproductive health.