Politics and law are major determinants of sexual and reproductive health, affecting the availability and quality of for sexual and reproductive health policies and services, including abortion care, as well as access to information and sex education. Health concerns also motivate laws against genital cutting and child marriage. And political processes and legal norms shape, norms among healthcare providers, and prejudice and stigma in society, with consequences for mental and physical health. Issues of adolescent sexuality are particularly politicised in many parts of the world, with consequences for the sexual and reproductive rights and health of young people. In Latin America (and elsewhere) comprehensive sexual education in schools and access to emergency contraception are highly politicised with significant consequences for teen pregnancy rates. Laws relating to the change of legal and physical gender, and access to gender affirming treatment vary radically between countries. Many countries have total bans on any change of gender, whether physical or legal, and even where permitted (under more or less strict conditions), age limits often prevent children from changing their gender.

Liv Tønnessen

Director of Center on Law and Social Transformation and Senior Researcher