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Expanding and ensuring the provision of reproductive health services in Costa Rica through the inclusion of a reproductive health chapter in the General Health Law

Silvia Amesty, MD, MPH, MSEd, Center for Family Medicine, Columbia University, 630 W. 168th St., VC 12-217, New York, NY 10032, 212-305-9107, sc1242@columbia.edu and Maria Elena Lopez, MD, Ministry of Health, Calle 16, Avenida 6 y 8, San Jose, Costa Rica.

Reproductive health is a priority in Costa Rica as rates of unintended pregnancies are increasing, especially among young adolescents. The Political Constitution establishes that health is a right that every citizen has, and guarantees access to health services to all; however, reproductive health services are limited and there are controversies as to whether adolescents should receive these services at all. In order to expand and ensure the provision of reproductive health services in general, a task force from the Ministry of Health recommended the inclusion of a reproductive health chapter in a proposed General Health Law reform. This generated fierce opposition from many congressmen, representatives, and religious conservatives, who claim that this inclusion will ultimately lead to the legalization of abortion, perceived as a negative outcome. As a response to this backlash, public health officials from government and academia organized a workshop in support of this reform. The goal was to bring together public health leaders from multiple sectors and lawmakers, and to address the need to protect and promote human rights and women rights. The workshop emphasized that abiding by international law treaties and the constitution is essential in order to guarantee reproductive rights and promote economic and social development (Costa Rica ratified the CEDAW in 1986, and the optional protocol in 2001). We propose to present the results of the workshop and the working groups where key community, government, NGOs, and academic leaders participated.

Learning Objectives:

  • At the end of this session, participants will be able to

    Keywords: Reproductive Health, Human Rights

    Presenting author's disclosure statement:

    Not Answered

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