Discussing Reproductive Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goals
Sustainable Development Goals

Today, I joined the Irish Family Planning Association and Dr. Gilda Sedgh at a public event to discuss reproductive rights around the world and the Sustainable Development Goals 

In particular I discussed the impact of the "Global Gag Rule" on women's reproductive health in developing countries. The rule, which was recently enacted by U.S. President Trump, prevents US aid money being used to fund organisations which perform, counsel, refer or advocate on abortion. The result of this rule is likely to be an increase in the number of unsafe abortions performed in developing countries and damaging limitations placed on women's ability to access family planning. 

Ireland's policy for international development, "One World, One Future" makes a commitment to "support efforts that reduce maternal and infant mortality, and promote universal access to reproductive healthcare, including ante-natal care and family planning services”. Further the Sustainable Development Goals recognise that the achievement of universal sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) is a prerequisite for achieving sustainable development and for realising other rights. It is therefore incumbent upon the Irish government to step up to their responsibilities internationally and seek ways to push back against the dangerous consequences of the "Global Gag Rule". 

Furthermore, it is important that we make progress in Ireland towards the realisation of the Sustainable Development goals in terms of SRHR by enacting the recommendations of the Citizens' Assembly. Along with my colleagues in the Civil Engagement Group, I welcomed the publication of the Citizens' Assembly report this week. 

Reading this report and hearing today from some of the international experts who also presented at the Citizens’ Assembly, two clear messages emerge: we need a referendum to remove this issue from our constitution, and we need an evidence-based legislative approach which ensures access to health and reproductive rights for women in Ireland.

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