Reproductive Rights in Europe

As expressed at the Cairo conference in 1994, reproductive rights are at the heart of population and development policies. Officially, these are not new rights, but rather clarifications concerning existing human rights: those guaranteeing to everyone full freedom to enjoy their bodies and their reproductive capacities. Over the years, and with dramatic upheavals in society encompassing the claims of various groups, the scope of reproductive rights has widened. Now this term includes such things as the improvement of pregnancy monitoring, prevention against genital mutilation of women, family planning, access to contraception, and voluntary or medical termination of pregnancy, but also the right to access methods of assisted procreation or gender self-determination. The advancement of these reproductive rights—which are not, however, recognized as such by the United Nations—has been the subject of many international and European summits. They are even the basis of the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. The implementation of these rights, which the UN encourages everywhere, cannot, however, look the same in all countries. Aware that certain points are divisive, international texts take care to recall, from the Cairo Conference of 1994, that their application must be made “with full respect for the various religious and ethical values, cultural backgrounds and philosophical convictions” of each country’s people.[1] Individual countries therefore decide as to the implementation of reproductive rights in their national legislation. In Europe, this freedom leads to a great disparity within the countries of the European Union on these issues. From Country to Country On abortion (often called IVG, the acronym for “L’Interruption Volontaire de Grossesse,” or Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy) for example, while France adopted in February 2017 a law extending misdemeanor status to the obstruction of abortion, which was me
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