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APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing

Barriers to obtaining emergency contraception: A violation of women's human rights

Rhonda L. Love, PhD, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto, 155 College Street, Toronto, ON M5T 3M7, Canada, 416-978-7514, rhonda.love@utoronto.ca

The right to control reproduction is a fundamental human right, threatened in various jurisdictions in various ways. One way to deny women control over their reproduction is to restriction access to emergency contraception (EC).

The World Health Organization considers EC to be an effective form of contraception but barriers to obtaining EC are numerous and increasing. In Canada EC is available without a prescription: a woman may request the medication from the pharmacist or acquire the drug from sexual health clinics. Recently, some Canadian pharmacists began to ask clients questions that intruded into a woman's privacy; they were chastened by government officials. In the United States, pharmacists have refused to fill prescriptions for EC and some pharmacy chains have forbidden the sale of EC.

Barriers to obtaining EC contravene women's human rights. Numerous conventions and declarations such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and others affirm women's right to control her body and to receive the highest attainable standards of health, for example. U.S. and Canadian comparisons provide insight into different political realities for women in the two countries. Canadian women generally have easier access to reproductive control measures but have experienced barriers to obtaining EC as have their American counterparts. The relationships of the U.S. and Canadian governments to pharmacy regulatory bodies and to pharmaceutical retailers will be discussed in the context of protecting women's human rights to reproductive control.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this session, the participants will be able to

Keywords: Human Rights, Contraception

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered

Human Rights and Reproductive Rights: Experiences of Women

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA