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Greater need but poorer access to care

Despite the fact that people with disabilities often have a greater need for good health care, they receive less of the care offered to the rest of the population. In several countries, more than half of all people with disabilities lack access to care, and in many cases the obstacles are even greater for women with disabilities.

A recurring problem is that care facilities are often not accessible to people with disabilities. People with disabilities report four times as often that they were treated badly, and three times as often that they were denied care.

People with disabilities, especially girls and women with disabilities, have less access to sexual information and services regarding sexual and reproductive health than other women. They are denied the right to make their own well-thought-out decisions about sexual relations, contraception and other forms of reproductive health care. This is particularly clear in the case of girls with intellectual disabilities. This means that girls and women run a higher risk of suffering from sexually transmitted diseases as well as unwanted pregnancies.

The UN highlights a comparison between five different countries that shows that pregnant women with disabilities to a greater extent than others are forced to give birth without the help of a professional midwife. This is due to the fact that these women are generally poorer, but also due to negative attitudes towards these women in healthcare.

The right over one's own body and sexuality

Everyone has the right to know their rights and receive accurate information related to sexuality and health. Many people with disabilities do not have access to any sexual information and are discriminated against in maternity and health care. Information is rarely available in formats accessible to people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired. Premises are rarely adapted for those with reduced mobility and wheelchair users. People with intellectual disabilities are often completely excluded from information about body and sexuality and rights connected to it. It is also common for people with disabilities to be seen as asexual and therefore deliberately excluded from sexual education, information and support.

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)

All people, regardless of disability, have the right to decide over their body and sexuality.

Briefly

  • People with disabilities often do not have access to sexual information and are discriminated against in maternity and health care.
  • People with disabilities are sometimes regarded as asexual and are thus deliberately excluded from sexual education and support.
  • The lack of rights and access to care increases poverty and the risks of unsafe abortions and lack of maternal care.
  • People with disabilities have less access to contraceptives, safe abortions, and support in connection with pregnancy and childbirth.
  • People with disabilities have less access to care and face barriers within the health care system, resulting in discrimination and non-attendance of care.
  • People with disabilities are at a higher risk of violence and sexual abuse, especially children and young women with intellectual disabilities.