Tewodros Melesse, Director-General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), and I are deeply saddened by the reports of the tragic deaths and injuries sustained by women undergoing surgical contraception in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. We join their families, as well as the people and governments of India, in mourning the departed.
Both UNFPA and the IPPF are strong advocates of rights-based family planning, enabling women and men to decide freely the number and spacing of their children without any form of coercion or discrimination.
It is critical to ensure the quality of service for all contraceptive methods, as well as the availability of a full range of modern contraceptives, which must always be chosen freely by fully-informed men and women, without any forms of incentives. In addition, surgical contraception must always be administered in safe and sanitary conditions.
We welcome the government's initiation of investigations, and we call for all those responsible to be held accountable to avoid impunity for those who provide services at low standards. Accountability will uphold choices of individuals and quality of service.
Any laws, procedures or protocols that might have allowed or contributed to the deaths and other human rights violations should be reformed or changed to prevent recurrences. UNFPA and the IPPF are ready to help with the reforms, if necessary.
As the global community agreed at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), "the principle of informed free choice is essential to the long-term success of family-planning programs. Any form of coercion has no part to play."