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UNFPA Global Population Policy Update
Laws and Policies in Peru, Panama, Colombia, Canada, and Mexico
ISSUE 49 - 01 April 2005
UNFPA GLOBAL POPULATION POLICY UPDATE
This issue of the UNFPA Global Population Policy Update highlights laws and policies adopted in the first half of 2004 relating to sexual exploitation and offences against minors, sexual and reproductive health national policies, human genetics and abortion.
Peru Amends Penal Code Relating to Sexual Offences
On 7 June 2004, Peru enacted Law No. 28251, which amends the Penal Code to strengthen provisions relating to sexual offences. The Law includes provisions to: a) enlarge the definition of various sexual offences, including trafficking and child pornography; b) increase the penalty for the offence of rape if the victim is a minor or the offence results in infection with a sexually transmissible infection (STI); c) increase penalties for other sexual offences, including those involving minors; d) prohibit sexual tourism involving minors and the publication through the mass media of information on child pornography, sexual tourism involving minors and trafficking of minors.
Panama Enacts Law on Protecting Minors from All Forms of Sexual Exploitation
On 30 March 2004, Panama enacted Law No. 16, whose main objective is to protect minors from all forms of sexual exploitation by establishing criminal penalties and preventive measures. The Law amends the Penal Code to add a new Chapter IV on sexual trafficking, tourism for sexual purposes and pornography involving minors. This Chapter prohibits the promotion or facilitation of the transport into or out of the country of minors for the purpose of sexual exploitation or sexual servitude and related activities; the production, commercialization, exhibition, or distribution of pornographic materials involving minors through any media including the Internet; and the promotion, organization, and facilitation of sexual tourism involving minors; and any activities related to these offences. The Law also amends various provisions of the Penal Code related to sexual offences and prostitution to increase penalties when the offence is committed against or involves a minor or results in pregnancy or infection with an STI of a minor. In addition, the Law requires all persons who have knowledge of an offence to report the crime; requires the government to provide legal protection to victims and pay the costs for medical and psychological treatment, therapy, and provisional housing and care; and creates a National Commission for the Prevention of Crimes of Sexual Exploitation.
Colombia Issues Regulation to Implement National Policy on Sexual and Reproductive Health
On 18 February 2004, Colombia's Ministry of Social Protection issued Circular No. 18 , which outlines goals, activities, and standards for the delivery of primary health care services. The Circular provides guidance for implementing the National Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy (summarized in the UNFPA Global Population Policy Update #3 ), the principal elements of which are measures to address: safe motherhood, family planning, adolescent sexual and reproductive health, uterine cancer, STIs and domestic and sexual violence. Among the actions called for in the Circular in the area of sexual and reproductive health are: information, education and outreach campaigns; the development and dissemination of guidelines for delivery of services; and the monitoring of compliance with these guidelines.
The Circular specifically addresses access to contraception by adolescents. It requires the provision of hormonal and barrier contraceptive methods, as well as emergency contraception (EC), to uninsured adolescents living in communities that are displaced, economically disadvantaged or at a high risk of unintended adolescent pregnancy. In addition, the Circular calls for providing EC and STI preventive care to victims of sexual and domestic violence.
Canada Adopts Assisted Human Reproduction Act
On 29 March 2004, Canada adopted the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, the country's first comprehensive law addressing human genetic and reproductive technologies. The Act's introductory principles emphasize the need to protect women's health and well-being in the use of reproductive technologies; stress the importance of free and informed consent as a fundamental precondition to the use of these technologies; and prohibit discrimination in the delivery of assisted reproductive procedures on the basis of sexual orientation, marital status or other grounds. While the Act permits the regulated use of human reproductive and genetic material and human embryos, it specifically prohibits certain activities deemed "ethically unacceptable," including: human cloning; the creation of human embryos solely for research purposes; the practice of sex-determination or identification techniques on human embryos except to prevent, diagnose or treat sex-linked disorders or diseases; commercial surrogate motherhood contracts; the purchase of sperm or eggs; the purchase or sale of embryos; and the procurement or use for personal purposes of sperm or eggs from individuals under 18 years of age. Permitted activities include the creation of human embryos for assisted reproduction purposes and the use of existing human embryos for research, including embryonic stem cell research. Such activities must be carried out by licensed individuals in accordance with the regulations issued under the Act.
The Act also addresses the collection, use and disclosure of the personal and medical information of sperm or egg donors and individuals who have undergone or been conceived by assisted reproduction procedures. In addition, the Act establishes the Assisted Human Reproduction Agency of Canada, which is charged with advising the Minister of Health on matters relating to the Act, issuing and reviewing licenses, collecting and analyzing the personal and medical information of donors and individuals who have undergone or been conceived by assisted reproduction procedures, and enforcing the Act. Engaging in any of the activities prohibited by the Act is punishable with a fine of up to $500,000 or imprisonment of up to ten years, or both. Contravention of any of the Act's other provisions is punishable with a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment of up to five years, or both. The Act provides for legislative review after three years.
Federal District of Mexico Amends Law to Require Public Health Institutions to Perform Abortions Free of Charge
On 16 January 2004, the Federal District of Mexico amended its Health Law to require public health institutions in the Federal District to perform abortions free-of-charge and in safe conditions, in cases where they are legal and requested by the pregnant woman. The Law requires that the pregnant woman also be provided with timely and accurate information on options other than abortion and the effects of abortion on her health. The abortion is to be carried out within five days of being requested. Health providers who, due to religious beliefs or personal convictions, are opposed to abortion may refuse to perform an abortion. However, they must refer the pregnant woman to a physician who would perform abortion. Moreover, in emergency situations where the pregnancy threatens the health or life of the pregnant woman, they may not refuse to perform the abortion. Public health institutions are required to ensure the timely provision of services and the permanent availability of personnel who are not opposed to abortion. Abortion is legal in the Federal District in cases of rape, fetal defect and serious threat to life or physical or mental health of the pregnant women.
All previous issues of the UNFPA Global Population Policy Update can now be found on UNFPA's website at: http://www.unfpa.org/parliamentarians/news/newsletters.htm.
This newsletter is issued by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in its capacity as secretariat for the biennial International Parliamentarians' Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action (IPCI/ICPD). The first IPCI/ICPD was held in November 2002 in Ottawa, Canada and the second in October 2004 in Strasbourg, France. These dispatches are intended to highlight important developments taking place around the world so that parliamentarians can be kept informed of and learn from the successes, setbacks and challenges encountered by their fellow parliamentarians in other countries and regions in their efforts to promote the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (September 1994, Cairo, Egypt). It should be noted that UNFPA does not necessarily endorse all of the policies described in this newsletter.
Thanks to Center for Reproductive Rights and Harvard University School of Public Health for their contributions to the content of this newsletter.
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