The United Nations Population Fund has released an annual report in which it states, for the first time, that access to birth control is an essential human right. The agency says that the lives of women and female adolescents around the world will improve if they're ensured contraceptives, and that legal, cultural, and financial barriers to family planning services therefore violate their basic rights. Beyond the rights issue, the report says that increasing annual funding for these services by $4 billion in poor countries could save $11.3 billion in medical bills for mothers and newborns. The Population Fund's conclusions aren't binding, and the procedures it advocates don't include abortion, but critics said the group is just trying to pave the way to declare universal abortion rights, too. Is the U.N. going too far, or is this a necessary stand in the defense of basic rights?

This is long overdue: Of course all women, no matter where they live, have the right to "reproductive freedom," says Taylor Marsh at her blog. For women to be able to decide how to manage their lives, they must have control over their bodies. As in 1995, when Hillary Clinton declared in China that women's rights are human rights, the U.N. Population Fund's statement is a welcome step "in a new direction." It doesn't have the force of law, but it's progress.
"U.N. report declares contraception an international human rights issue"

The U.N. wants to trample the rights of people of faith: If we declare birth control a "right," then everybody has to pay to make sure people get it, Brian Clowes, director of research for Human Life International, tell LifeSiteNews, "even if those forced to pay for it may object to it on moral grounds." That's a clear violation of "the more basic human right of freedom of conscience."
"U.N. agency declares birth control a 'human right'"

Health is the most basic right there is: To hear Mitt Romney and other conservatives tell it, says Amanda Marcotte at Slate, the only reason we're having this conversation is that "trollops around the world want an all-you-can-screw buffet and they want it to be free." As the Population Fund points out, however, women who use contraception are healthier, better educated, and more empowered than those who don't. It's "distinctly unsexy," but this is about giving people access to a better life.
"Romney calls contraception a 'gift' just as the U.N. declares it a right"