Humanists UK and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) have made a joint intervention at the UN Human Rights Council. They expressed concern at widespread failure to guarantee reproductive and sexual health rights, including access to abortion services, during the pandemic.
The intervention was made by video by Humanists UK Campaigns Officer Rachel Taggart-Ryan, during the plenary Interactive Dialogue with the UN working group on discrimination against women. In her comments, she said:
‘In Romania, hospitals were instructed to suspend ‘non-emergency surgery’. At the height of the crisis only 11 of Romania’s 280 hospitals provided abortions, forcing women to risk unsafe means. Similar restrictions were reported in Croatia, Italy, and Slovakia. In countries with little to no legal access to abortion, such as Malta and Poland, travel restrictions and postal delays have further prevented women from accessing their only safe means to abortion.
‘We welcome the Governments of the UK, Scotland and Wales’ steps to enable access to telemedical abortion services as a temporary measure during the pandemic. This practice has proven to be accessible, safe, and effective, enabling women to make the right choice for them regardless of their circumstances. We support the recommendation of BPAS that these measures be made permanent. We hope the UK Government will continue to promote telemedicine as best practice, both in terms of medicine and human rights, setting an example for the international community.’
She asked the working group how it intends to address the regressive measures taken by some states against the rights of women and girls’ brought about by the pandemic.
For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.
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