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Towards a Human Rights — Based Contraceptive Policy; A Critique of Anti-Sterilisation Law in Poland

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Sterilisation is one of the safest, most effective and most widely used method of family planning in the world. However, it is illegal and inaccessible in Poland. This paper argues that implications of the anti-sterilisation policy in Poland amount to a violation of human rights, especially the right to respect for private and family life and the right to equality. It also explores this question with regard to the right to health. In particular, the argument goes, the rights-based challenges to the criminal prohibition of sterilisation require a gender-sensitive perspective on contraceptive policy that recognises the intimate connection between reproductive choice and the status of women. Certain concerns associated with contraceptive sterilisation (e.g. fear of abuse or post-sterilisation regret) would be addressed more appropriately by less restrictive measures that respect rights of individuals and better respond to their needs - in particular a system of counselling, confining decisions about sterilisation to the doctor-patient level and basing them on free and informed choice. The paper concludes that sterilisation policy should be part of the comprehensive reproductive health policy built upon respect for human rights and principles of equality and public health, as opposed to the present Polish government's policy, which is ideologically driven and does not conform to international standards.

Affiliations: 1: LL.M., University of Toronto (2000), University of Warsaw (1999)


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