The United Nations declared Wednesday that access to contraception constitutes a basic human right, a statement that could have far reaching implications.
The Associated Press reports that the UN Population Fund’s annual report for the first time Wednesday referred to contraceptive access as a right. Essentially, the statement means that legal, cultural, and religious objections to contraception constitute an infringement of the rights of people desiring contraception.
“Family planning is not a privilege, but a right. Yet, too many women — and men — are denied this human right,” Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the UN Population Fund told AFP.
The UN report is non-binding an does not directly effect the laws of any nation. Still, the United Nations has considerable influence and the report will be used by those seeking to increase access to contraceptives.
While some consider abortion to be an effective part of so-called Family Planning, Osotimehin added that the UN is not calling for abortion to be a human right, just contraception. He added that 13 percent of maternal mortality worldwide is a result of unsafe abortions.
“Abortion should not be promoted as a method of contraception. Where it is legal, we advocate that it should be done safely,” he told AFP.
The UN report will be certain to run afoul of several major groups including the Roman Catholic Church. While studies have shown that Catholics do use condoms and other contraceptives, Church teaching declares the use of contraceptives as a sin. In the United States, Catholic Bishops have been active in opposing a mandate by President Barack Obama’s administration that would require all employers to pay for their employee’s contraceptive services.