Table 7:  Disability and the right to sexual and
reproductive health  

Examples of Human Rights Violations

  • Women with disabilities are subject to compulsory abortions.
  • Women with disabilities are subject to involuntary sterilization.
Human Rights Standards Treaty Body Interpretation
CRPD 25 States shall (a) provide persons with disabilities with the same range, quality and standard of free or affordable health care and programmes provided to other persons, including in the area of sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programmes.

CRPD 17 Every person with disabilities has a right to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity on an equal basis with others.

CRPD 23 (1) States Parties shall take effective and appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against persons with disabilities in all matters relating to marriage, family, parenthood and relationships, on an equal basis with others, so as to ensure that: (c) Persons with disabilities, including children, retain their fertility on an equal basis with others.

CRPD: recommending that Spain abolish the administration of medical treatment, in particular sterilization, without the full and informed consent of the patient; and ensure that national law especially respects women’s rights under articles 23 and 25 of the Convention. CRPD/C/ESP/CO/1 (2011).

CRPD: calling upon Peru to abolish administrative directives on forced sterilization of persons with disabilities.  CRPD/C/PER/CO/1(2012).

CRPD: calling upon China to prohibit compulsory sterilization and forced abortion on women with disabilities. CRPD/C/CHN/CO/1 (2012).

CRPD: regretting that, in Argentina, “in cases where a woman with disabilities is under guardianship, her legal representative may give consent for a legal abortion on her behalf.  It is likewise concerned that persons with disabilities are being sterilized without their free and informed consent.”  CRPD/C/ARG/CO/1 (CRPD, 2012).

CRPD: recommending that Argentina “amend article 86 of its Criminal Code and article 3 of Contraceptive Surgery Act No. 26.130 so that they will be in accordance with the Convention and take steps to provide the necessary support to women under guardianship or trusteeship to ensure that the women themselves are the ones who give their informed consent for a legal abortion or for sterilization.” CRPD/C/ARG/CO/1 (CRPD, 2012).

CRPD: recommending that China ensure that “sex education be taught to children and adolescents with intellectual disabilities.”  CRPD/C/CHN/CO/1 (2012).

CESCR General Comment 5, para. 31: explaining that “[w]omen with disabilities have the right to protection and support in relation to motherhood and pregnancy… The needs and desires in question should be recognized and addressed in both the recreational and procreational contexts.”
CEDAW 12(1) States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health services, including those related to family planning. CEDAW Committee: recommending that Australia “enact national legislation prohibiting, except where there is a serious threat to life or health, the use of sterilization of girls, regardless of whether they have a disability, and of adult women with disabilities in the absence of their fully informed and free consent.”  CEDAW/C/AUL/CO/7 (2010).

CEDAW Committee: noting that the Czech Republic “has not implemented the 2005 recommendations of the ombudsman, endorsed by the committee in 2006, to adopt without delay legislative changes with regard to sterilization, including a clear definition of free, prior and informed consent in cases of sterilization and to financially compensate the victims of coercive or non-consensual sterilizations performed on, in particular, Roma women and women with mental disabilities.”  CEDAW/C/CZE/CO/5 (CEDAW, 2010).