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Global Public Health. 2014 Jun 3; 9(6):607–619.On the twentieth anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), activists, governments and diplomats engaged in the fight for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are anxious to ensure that these issues are fully reflected in the development agenda to succeed the Millennium Development Goals after 2015. In inter-governmental negotiations since 1994 and particularly in the period 2012-2014, governments have shown that they have significantly expanded their understanding of a number of so-called ‘controversial’ issues in the ICPD agenda, whether safe abortion, adolescent sexual and reproductive health services, comprehensive sexuality education or sexual rights. As in the past and in spite of an increasingly complex and difficult multilateral environment, countering the highly organized conservative opposition to SRHR has required a well-planned and determined mobilization by progressive forces from North and South.
Ensuring women's access to safe abortion: essential strategies for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Ipas, 2005.  pApproved by world leaders in September 2000, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) articulate a series of time-bound, quantitative targets for ending poverty, improving health and promoting gender equality. The MDGs lack, however, any mention of human rights or reproductive and sexual health. In particular, the MDG framework does not include the critical issue of abortion, despite the fact that unsafe abortion leads to the unnecessary and completely preventable deaths of women and is a persistent problem rooted in poverty, gender inequity and the failure to implement human rights. Over the past decade, the international community has committed itself in a series of political and legal agreements to promoting and fulfilling women’s and men’s sexual and reproductive rights. Governments at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994 agreed to a definition of reproductive health that includes abortion in circumstances where it is legal under national legislation. The MDGs echo elements of the ICPD consensus, but none specifically address its core commitment to ensure universal reproductive-health services. At the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995, sexual rights were acknowledged as integral to human rights and women’s empowerment, and countries were encouraged to review restrictive abortion laws. (excerpt)
Countdown 2015: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights for All. 2004; (Spec No):88-91.In the effort to make the Cairo consensus a reality, no issue has been more controversial than abortion. Most of the industrialised world and the larger developing countries passed liberal abortion laws by the mid-1970s, around the time when women’s rights and autonomy began to be widely recognised. But abortion remains illegal in most African and Latin American countries and some parts of Asia, except in cases of rape or incest or when a woman’s life is in jeopardy. Even then, it is often difficult for women to find safe and legal services. New actors in the world of political and social conservatism have recently joined forces with the institutional Catholic Church, bolstering its opposition to all forms of reproductive health. The result has been a shrewd takeover of the terms of debate on abortion and a severe public backlash against it. The threat, however, is not just to the legal right to abortion: every kind of reproductive health service and family planning method is now under siege. In the early 1990s there was growing international consensus that safe and legal abortion was a public health imperative, a human right and a compassionate response to unintended and unsustainable pregnancies. Now, however, we have doubt, hesitation and in some cases, a full-scale retreat. Public courage is at a low ebb and will not resurge without a strong push. (excerpt)