Women's Access to Health Care: The Legal Framework

International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Vol. 94, pp. 216-225, 2006

10 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2006

See all articles by Rebecca J. Cook

Rebecca J. Cook

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Charles Ngwena

University of the Orange Free State

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Evidence-based access, fairness, Transparency, Women's health, Human rights

JEL Classification: I18, K19

Suggested Citation

Cook, Rebecca J. and Ngwena, Charles, Women's Access to Health Care: The Legal Framework. International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Vol. 94, pp. 216-225, 2006, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=945637

Rebecca J. Cook (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 Queen's Park Cr.
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-978-4446 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

Charles Ngwena

University of the Orange Free State ( email )

205 Nelson Mandela Drive
Park West
Bloemfontein, Free State 9300
South Africa

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