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Journal Article


Uzoigwe CE. Lancet 2019; 394(10209): 1614.


Aintree University Hospital, Liverpool L9 7AL, UK. Electronic address:


(Copyright © 2019, Elsevier Publishing)






The compelling and lucidly articulated Editorial ["The erosion of women's sexual and reproductive rights" doi:] decries the erosion of women's reproductive rights following the UN Security Council resolution. However, the Editors do not identify where and in what guise this situation has occurred. Access to health, including reproductive health, is a fundamental right to all women irrespective of circumstance. Appending health rights to UN resolutions, intended to prevent violence against women in conflict, might be used by some people as a pretext to restrict women's access to health to certain specific circumstances. Further, where resources are scarce or finite, such as in any peribellum (ie, war circumstances) politico-economic milieu, special conduits to health care might be manipulated to discriminate against women who do not find themselves falling within the qualifying conditions but are still in need of help. If women are aware of their rights or have facilitated access to health services, only in the context of conflict, then the medical profession is failing clinically, socially, and politically. Seamless services might be convenient for clinicians but might stigmatise and segregate women or, worse still, force victims to relive the horrors of conflict in a seamless medical conveyor belt.

The medical profession nowadays sees this manipulation of reproductive rights used as a tool to further oppress and discriminate against women; inveterately entrenching gender inequality. Chao and colleagues2 identified an estimated 23 million missing girls because of gender-selective abortion between 1950 and 2017. The medical community is at best reticent and at worse taciturn as this egregious practice plays out. The Lancet has shown great leadership in promoting the rights of women and also has an opportunity here.

Access to all forms of health is a universal and unqualified fundamental right. Qualification of these rights in UN resolutions might inadvertently marginalise women. Suspicion of political subterfuge or expediency cannot be used to drive medical initiatives ...

Language: en


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