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  1. 1

    Human rights from humanitarian perspectives: an international comparative appraisal of state laws on and practice of abortion and sterilization as means of family planning.

    Gutto SB

    Nairobi, Kenya, University of Nairobi, Institute for Development Studies, 1980 Mar. 35 p. (Discussion Paper No. 269; KE/01316/00)

    This study describes and analyzes the evolution and establishment of family planning as an internationally recognized aspect of human rights both at the level of customary social state practices and as a response to international promotion through the UN and agencies. 2 core themes of the study are: the development of a coherent conceptual linkage between family planning and human rights based on humanitarian considerations; and the demonstration of the existence, scope, and limitations of customary practices of family planning, through abortion and sterilization, among a wide spread of states within different levels of technological development, differential political philosophies, and organized religious culture. The 1st major international expression of the need to raise family planning to the status of an international human right was made by 12 heads of state under the Declaration on Population of 10 December 1966, a unilateral declaration later signed by 18 more states. In 1969 the UN General Assembly declared that families should have "the knowledge and means necessary to enable them to exercise their right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children." By formal legal reasoning, the right of family planning became an international right, and only its practice needs to be encouraged and evaluated. The concept and the right of family planning is not an abstract construct that is limited to the distribution of oral contraceptives (OCs) alone, and it is not simply confinable to the reduction of population growth rates alone nor is it merely a tool used for the purpose of increasing fertility rates. What it does is to create conditions for rational, premeditated decision making as regards procreation so that childbearing no longer remains the domain of mystical gods to decide for human beings. At another fundamental level it helps to provide mothers an opportunity to realize and maintain health standards they decide. In sum, it facilitates the right to life and human dignity. To measure the extent to which the newly emerged right of family planning, both at international and national levels, have developed and is practiced, attention was directed to the practice of states. Differences emerged among state practices, but a fundamental fact regarding the universality of the practice, especially through abortion and sterilization, has been established. There is noticeable general movement towards reform of laws and practice to make them conform with the realization of the right of family planning, beginning with instances of therapeutic, eugenic, socioeconomic, and other apparent humanitarian dictates. This is particularly favorable to the thesis of this study, i.e., that the practice of states is not useful only for academic reasons, but more fundamentally that state practice indirectly acts as models that influence other state practices and mold the international standards.
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  2. 2

    Informing social change.

    Alan Guttmacher Institute [AGI]

    New York, Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1980. 44 p.

    The activities, aims and achievements of the Alan Guttmacher Institute are described in this report of its first decade. The AGI was created to foster research and public education so as to effect changes in public policy that would make fertility-related health care accessible to low income women. The Institute utilizes existing research and generates new data to pinpoint the need for subsidized family planning services in the U.S. The growing acceptance of birth control and significant developments in the area over the AGI's history are detailed, including its own activities. The series of AGI-sponsored publications which disseminate the findings of social and scientific research relating to population and family planning are described and the specific purposes of each are differentiated. Efforts of the AGI to promote equal access to abortion for all women, to keep the field informed so as to mobilize public and congressional efforts on behalf of abortion rights, and to provide reliable information on abortion are discussed. Educational activities concerning the extent and seriousness of the problems of teenage pregnancy are another AGI priority, as is the focussing of attention on limitations of current methods of contraception and the need for increased government support of reproductive research. Future goals of the AGI which build upon past accomplishments and respond to new challenges are detailed.
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