Report: Access to Contraception and Women’s Experiences with the Public Health System

In February 2014 a health rights activist and two advocates from the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) traveled to three villages in Mewat District, Haryana to investigate women’s access to contraceptive information and services and state implementation of reproductive health schemes. The current unmet need or the percentage of married women who wish to delay or prevent pregnancy and do not have access to contraception is 35.8% in Mewat. This is much higher than Haryana’s unmet need of 15.4%.The team conducted focus group discussions in three villages with a total of 57 women.

As a result of these conversations, the fact-finding team has identified the following major issues of concern:  Women in Mewat do not have access to the information or contraceptive services that facilitate autonomous decisions about pregnancy and reproduction. The public health system does provide women access to adequate, acceptable, quality reproductive health care or to trained medical professionals and Equipped facilities.

Inadequate access to quality contraceptives results in unwanted Pregnancies that create immense financial strain for women who either pay for medical termination of pregnancy out of pocket or struggle to provide for their large families. Religious and cultural norms prevent women from obtaining contraceptive information and services. The state has not taken action to address these prevailing norms.  The state’s singular focus on sterilization limits women’s access to nonpermanent forms of contraception.This report also includes individual testimonies to illustrate the impacts of the state's failure to implement reproductive and maternal health schemes and to ensure thefundamental rights to life, health, dignity, and equality enshrined in the Constitution ofIndia. Ultimately, the fact-finding team urges immediate state action to address themyriad forms of discrimination against women that persist in Mewat.

Read on the full report here:

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