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Commentary: Bioethics, Human Rights, and Childbirth, 2015

19 December 2022

The global reproductive justice community has turned its attention to the abuse and disrespect that many women face during institutional delivery. In 2014, the World Health Organisation issued a statement on the issue, supported by more than 80 civil society organisations and service workers


health around the world. The statement acknowledges a growing body of research that shows widespread patterns of mistreatment of women during childbirth - physical and verbal abuse, neglect and abandonment, humiliation and punishment, forced care - in a range of health facilities, from basic rural health centres to tertiary hospitals. The statement further identifies this mistreatment as a violation of human rights. It affirms: "Every woman has the right to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to dignified, respectful health care throughout pregnancy and childbirth." The WHO statement and the strong support for it indicate a critical shift in global advocacy for maternal rights. It is a shift from the world of public health systems and resources in mortality prevention to the intimate clinical setting of the patient and clinician providing respectful care.