Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Article 25 of the CRPD, Access to Health Services




I begin this blog by telling a true story. When the working group was drafting the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, it heard from people with disabilities. A self-advocate from New Zealand, who had spent most of his life in an institution, told of a woman he knew while in the institution. The woman died of ovarian cancer. She had never had any preventative screening of her reproductive organs because, as the self-advocate put it, “She was retarded.” This story and others like it had a profound effect on the working group. They believed strongly that, “reproductive programmes” had to be mentioned in Article 25 or people with disabilities would continue to be ignored or denied reproductive health services.

While the phrasing in Article 25 of the CRPD had such an intent –
(a) Provide persons with disabilities with the same range, quality and standard of free or affordable health care and programmes as provided to other persons, including in the area of sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programmes;
people who were opposed to abortion thought the wording in this paragraph would create new abortion rights.  That is why the phrase “as provided to other persons” was included. So when it comes to access to health services, including reproductive care and programs, persons with disabilities would have access to no more or less than others. This wording does not create new abortion rights.
It may be of value to see the entire text of Article 25.

States Parties recognize that persons with disabilities have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure access for persons with disabilities to health services that are gender-sensitive, including health-related rehabilitation. In particular, States Parties shall:
(a) Provide persons with disabilities with the same range, quality and standard of free or affordable health care and programmes as provided to other persons, including in the area of sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programmes;
(b) Provide those health services needed by persons with disabilities specifically because of their disabilities, including early identification and intervention as appropriate, and services designed to minimize and prevent further disabilities, including among children and older persons;
(c) Provide these health services as close as possible to people’s own communities, including in rural areas;
(d) Require health professionals to provide care of the same quality to persons with disabilities as to others, including on the basis of free and informed consent by, inter alia, raising awareness of the human rights, dignity, autonomy and needs of persons with disabilities through training and the promulgation of ethical standards for public and private health care;
(e) Prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in the provision of health insurance, and life insurance where such insurance is permitted by national law, which shall be provided in a fair and reasonable manner;
(f) Prevent discriminatory denial of health care or health services or food and fluids on the basis of disability.

I think these words are something we all can support.

Thank you.
Common Grounder

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