Women's access to health care: The legal framework
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The Millennium Development Goals set ambitious targets for women's health, including reductions in maternal and child mortality and combating the spread of HIV/AIDS. The law, which historically has often obstructed women's access to the health care they require, has a dynamic potential to ensure women's access that is being progressively realized. This paper identifies three legal principles that are key to advancing women's reproductive and sexual health. First, law should require that care be evidence-based, reflecting medical and social science rather than, for instance, religious ideology or morality. Second, legal guidance should be clear and transparent, so that service providers and patients know their responsibilities and entitlements without litigation to resolve uncertainties. Third, law should provide applicable measures to ensure fairness in women's access to services, both general services and those only women require. Legal developments are addressed that illustrate how law can advance women's equality, and social justice.
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