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Statement of Support from:
Anand Grover, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Right to Health
Mumbai, India, January 23, 2013
I congratulate Canada on completing 25 years since R v. Morgentaler, when it successfully moved away from a criminal regime limiting abortions to a barrier-free environment in which women are able to enjoy their right to sexual and reproductive health.
States are required to respect the right to health of women by not interfering with their right to autonomy and right to privacy and dignity all of which are critical to the right to sexual and reproductive health. The right to health also mandates States to ensure that quality health facilities, goods and services are available and accessible to all, without discrimination. This requires the removal of economic, physical and legal barriers to healthcare services, including for abortion. Criminalization is an impediment to the successful realization of the right to health of women and exposes them to the risks associated with unsafe and illegal abortions.
In decriminalizing abortion, R v. Morgentaler upheld these principles as crucial to women’s reproductive freedom and autonomy. It recognised the fundamental right of a women to make decisions concerning her own body, ushering in an era of equality, dignity and freedom for women in Canada.
It is reassuring that the movement for greater sexual and reproductive autonomy for women has sustained successfully in Canada for all these years and I wish it bigger success in the future.