Thursday, July 21, 2016

Obligation to respect 10/16

40. The obligation to respect requires States to refrain from directly or indirectly interfering with the exercise by individuals of the right to sexual and reproductive health. States must not limit or deny anyone access to sexual and reproductive health, including through laws criminalizing sexual and reproductive health services and information, while confidentiality of health data should be maintained. States must reform laws that impede the exercise of the right to sexual and reproductive health. Examples include laws criminalizing abortion, non-disclosure of HIV status, exposure to and transmission of HIV, consensual sexual activities between adults, and transgender identity or expression.31

 41. The obligation to respect also requires States to repeal, and refrain from enacting, laws and policies that create barriers in access to sexual and reproductive health services. This includes third-party authorization requirements, such as parental, spousal and judicial authorization requirements for access to sexual and reproductive health services and information, including for abortion and contraception; biased counselling and mandatory waiting periods for divorce, remarriage or access to abortion services; mandatory HIV testing; and the exclusion of particular sexual and reproductive health services from public funding or foreign assistance funds. The dissemination of misinformation and the imposition of restrictions on the right of individuals to access information about sexual and reproductive health also violates the duty to respect human rights. National and donor States must refrain from censoring, withholding, misrepresenting or criminalizing the provision of information on sexual and reproductive health, 32 both to the public and to individuals. Such restrictions impede access to information and services, and can fuel stigma and discrimination.33

31 See e.g. E/C.12/1/Add.105 and Corr.1, para. 53; Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women general recommendation No. 24, paras. 24 and 31 (c); A/66/254; and A/HRC/14/20. 
32 Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights general comment No. 14; and Committee on the Rights of the Child general comment No. 4 (2003) on adolescent health and development in the context of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
33 Amnesty International, Left Without a Choice: Barriers to Reproductive Health in Indonesia (2010)

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