Special Rapporteur Anand Grover on Criminal Laws and Sexual and Reproductive Health (U.N. Doc. A/66/254, 2011)
In the present report, the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health considers the interaction between criminal laws and other legal restrictions relating to sexual and reproductive health and the right to health. The right to sexual and reproductive health is a fundamental part of the right to health. States must therefore ensure that this aspect of the right to health is fully realized. The Special Rapporteur considers the impact of criminal and other legal restrictions on abortion; conduct during pregnancy; contraception and family planning; and the provision of sexual and reproductive education and information. Some criminal and other legal restrictions in each of those areas, which are often discriminatory in nature, violate the right to health by restricting access to quality goods, services and information. They infringe human dignity by restricting the freedoms to which individuals are entitled under the right to health, particularly in respect of decision-making and bodily integrity. Moreover, the application of such laws as a means to achieving certain public health outcomes is often ineffective and disproportionate. Realization of the right to health requires the removal of barriers that interfere with individual decision-making on health-related issues and with access to health services, education and information, in particular on health conditions that only affect women and girls. In cases where a barrier is created by a criminal law or other legal restriction, it is the obligation of the State to remove it. The removal of such laws and legal restrictions is not subject to resource constraints and can thus not be seen as requiring only progressive realization. Barriers arising from criminal laws and other laws and policies affecting sexual and reproductive health must therefore be immediately removed in order to ensure full enjoyment of the right to health.