Family planning and budgeting for human rights in India

Weigelt, Thibault and Sharma, Erica (2020) Family planning and budgeting for human rights in India. International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare, 13 (4). pp. 333-345. ISSN 20564902

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Family planning services play an important role in the realization of reproductive rights of women. In India, the family planning program is one of the largest in the world with thousands of patients, mostly women, accessing services every year. Although the Indian legal system offers guarantees the right to health and courts have in the past sought to protect women’s reproductive rights, Indian women, particularly from marginalized sections of society, still battle inadequate services and the absence of healthcare that is receptive to their needs. Therefore, the question is: in the presence of a strong legal framework, what are the factors that contribute to this problem? The authors have gathered data from the Project Implementation Plans at the State level comparing year wise expenditure for family planning against overall expenditure for Reproductive, Maternal and Child Health expenditure, as well as year wise composition of the family planning. Using matplotlib, the authors have visualized expenditure data to highlight trends among States. The article finds that current spending and in the NHM to guarantee women’s reproductive rights as it is spending the vast majority of resources on sterilization, thus limiting women’s ability to truly choose the number and spacing of children. The data used in this research bears one limitation: the propensity of the government to change the guidelines as to how States should present their budgets in the project implementation plans. The authors have adjusted the data so that it remains comparable. However, adjustment was not possible for all expenditure data, which is why the current study is limited to the family planning programme alone. The article argues that, in order to the human rights compliant, health budgets inside the NHM need to be geared towards the specific needs of women in terms of family planning. Finally, the article briefly outlines the role played by human rights and human rights litigation in impacting government budgets. India’s family planning programme has been examined from a performance and medical standpoint, focusing on medical indicators such as total fertility rate, unmet needs for family planning amongst others. What is absent, however, is an assessment of the programme from a right-based perspective by looking at the human rights obligations of India and their normative implications for health budgets.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: India | Human Rights | Family Planning | Population Growth | Human Rights Budgets | Reproductive Health Rights
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Health (Social sciences)
Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Human Rights
JGU School/Centre: Jindal Global Law School
Depositing User: Amees Mohammad
Date Deposited: 22 Dec 2021 05:56
Last Modified: 22 Dec 2021 05:57
Official URL:
Additional Information: The authors would like to thank Dr Aashita Dawer, Meral Aydin, Gangotri Hazarika Nath, Harini Raghupathy and Ramyasri Dronamraju for their feedback and comments. The authors would also like to thank students of the Reproductive Rights clinic at Jindal Global Law School.


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