HIV and Pregnancy Term Paper

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¶ … Women with HIV have Reproductive Rights?

Many studies attest to the fact that women and children have become the epicenter of the HIV / AIDS epidemic in the world. "A decade ago, women and children seemed to be on the periphery of the AIDS epidemic...Today... women and children are at the centre of our concern." ("Women and Children: Increasingly," 1994. p 56) Recent reports indicate that an increasing number of women are becoming HIV positive. Lisa Fitzpatrick of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that "Women account for about 25% of the roughly 1 million Americans believed to be living with the AIDS virus, HIV, a population that has remained relatively stable over the past few years." (Sternberg, S. 2005)

These facts impact radically on the issue of Reproductive Rights as they relate to women who are HIV positive.

The issue of reproductive rights for women is in itself as complex and convoluted area of moral and ethical discourse. Reproductive rights are a minefield of dissention and debate as this issue is linked to other contentious issues such as sexual and gender rights. The history of reproductive rights is inextricably related to the history of women's rights and gender issues in general, which have become prominent in contemporary society.

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Reproduction rights are also related to the debate about the rights of the woman to control her own body in a generally male dominated world. All of these issues are further compounded by the issue of HIV / AIDS, which makes the problem that much more complex. The following view of reproductive rights outlines some of the issues and problematics surrounding reproductive rights.

Term Paper on HIV and Pregnancy Assignment

When we speak of reproductive rights, what do we mean? In a literal sense, "reproductive rights" can mean "the right to reproduce." In the American context, the opposite meaning may be more familiar: the right to prevent reproduction, particularly by means of abortion. But the term has additional meanings, which are not included within this familiar dichotomy of the right to have children vs. The right not to do so.

Whatever reproductive rights are, to discuss them is inevitably to plunge into controversy. To speak of reproductive rights is to combine three sensitive issues, any one of which is explosive by itself: sex, gender, and rights. Reproductive rights lie at the intersection of sex and gender.

Baer, 2002, p. xi)

The above view emphasizes the central problems in the issue of reproductive rights for women. Baer also emphasizes that there is an implicit connection between reproductive rights and sexual activity which is "complex and dynamic."

This aspect points to the inherent complexity of the issue of reproduction rights.

Another factor that must be taken into consideration is the advances in modern technology with regard to reproduction. In this regard medical and biological advances have made the separation of sex from reproduction an increasingly viable possibility. "The new technology of the twenty-first century may well separate conception from sex. Artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, and ectogenesis are turning the possibility of reproduction without sexual intercourse into a reality." (ibid) However for all practical purposes, any discussion within the parameters of reproductive rights still involves taking cognizance of gender and sexual issues, as well as cultural relationships. As Baer states,

As important as reproductive issues are and always have been for men, women's childbearing function gives reproductive rights issues a quantitatively greater and qualitatively different impact on women's lives than on men's. The subject of reproductive rights is inseparable from the subject of sexual equality

While many of these aspects will have to be taken into account in answering the question- should women with HIV have reproductive rights - the present paper will attempt to simplify the issue and focus largely on the direct relationship of HIV to both the ethical and practical aspects of women's reproductive rights. An essential factor that became evident while researching this topic was that the ethical and moral dimensions of the question have to be balanced against the practical issues such as poverty and economics, as well as privacy in attempting to come to a conclusion in answering this default question.

The history of reproductive rights has changed dramatically with the advent of HIV / AIDS and its effect on the female population of the world. This is especially the case in places like Africa where the incidence of HIV is extremely high and where most of the victims are women. In the light of these facts the present discussion will attempt to outline a clear argument that includes most of the relevant issues and aspects of the question. At the same time, space only allows for a focus on the most salient issues and many of the related subsidiary aspects could not be dealt with at length.

Literature overview

There are a plethora of works relaxing directly or indirectly to reproductive rights and gender issues. The research data and sources in general however tended to focus more on the issue of HIV / AIDS in terms of general issues and problems, rather than on specific areas of concern such as reproductive rights. Even fewer studies focused specifically on the complex relationship between reproductive rights and gender related ethical debates. Having said this, there are some enlightening and informative articles and books on this subject.

For example the Historical and Multicultural Encyclopedia of Women's Reproductive Rights in the United States (2002) by Baer, J.A. (Ed.) presented the case for reproductive rights in the light of the complex issues that surround it.

The literature relating to Women and HIV and dealing with relates issues were extensive. In this regard it was found that much of the latest information was accessible online through various verified sites. For example, some succinct and cogent information was available the Fiji Women's Crisis centre ( others. The online sources tended to provide a clear overview of some of the issues and were useful as starting points for further research.

The current literature rends to focus on the ethical and gender issues as they relate to human rights in general. There were comparatively few articles or books dealing with both ethical and practical issues. There are however an increasing number of journals and medical articles dealing with the issue of reproductive rights in African and Asian countries; which is indicative of the growing problem with regard to the intersection of HIV, Women's rights and culture in those areas..

Among the articles that provided insight into the topic was the excellent Fulfilling reproductive rights for women affected by HIV by the international Community of Women Living with HIV / AIDS (ICW). This provided a wealth of information and insight on the central question of this paper. A book which covers a broad range of issues is the Rights of People Who Are HIV Positive: The Authoritative ACLU Guide to the Rights of People Living with HIV Disease and AIDS (1996) by Ruth Eisenberg et al. A jounrla article entitled HIV / AIDS and Human Rights by J.M. Vorster (2003) also provided valuable information.

3. Discussion

3.1. What are Reproductive rights?

The facts relating to the denial of reproductive rights for women with HIV are alarming. This is made all the more serious by the increase in the number of women with HIV, which in turn highlights the issue of reproductive rights. The history of human rights for women in society begins with their roles as mothers. However, women's suffrage ensured that women achieved more extensive rights in the first half of the Twentieth Century in Europe and America. In 1945 the Charter of the United Nations went into effect, and "... For the first time the human rights of women were afforded equal status with the human rights of men." (Devine & Hansen, 1999, p. 250) in 1970 the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) addressed the issue of women's rights more extensively and in a variety of contexts. (ibid)

Despite these advances in human rights there are still many areas that are lacking in terms of full equality. This is particularly the case in developing countries where ethnic and culture discrimination is still rife. One of the areas that have not been fully addressed is that of reproductive rights, and this situation has been exacerbated by the HIV / AIDS.

(Devine & Hansen, 1999, p. 251)

From an ethical and moral point-of-view, reproductive rights for women are seen as essential and non-negotiable human rights. The following is one definition of reproductive rights.

Reproductive rights include the rights of all individuals to control over their own bodies, to have sex that is consensual, free from violence and coercion, and to enter marriage with the Free and full consent of both parties. Reproductive rights are essential for women's exercise of their right to health. Women's reproductive rights concern the freedom that women must have to express their sexuality with dignity.

What are women's reproductive rights?)

Reproductive rights essentially refer to the fact both… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "HIV and Pregnancy" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

HIV and Pregnancy.  (2005, June 15).  Retrieved May 28, 2020, from

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"HIV and Pregnancy."  15 June 2005.  Web.  28 May 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"HIV and Pregnancy."  June 15, 2005.  Accessed May 28, 2020.