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Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Venezuela: The Laws You Should Know

Updated: 2 days ago

Reproductive rights in Venezuela

Defending and fighting for the recognition of our freedoms is vital. But to defend ourselves, we must first know the law. What are the sexual and reproductive rights in Venezuela?

To understand the legal context of these rights, it is first necessary to know what they are. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) defines them as: "determinants of the processes to maintain and improve health, since they are a guarantee of a sexuality and intimacy free of interference, according to individual expressions and needs". Some of these rights are: self-determination, free, responsible and informed decision making, family planning and the right to sexual and reproductive health care.

In Venezuela, we have an important deficit of laws that protect and promote sexual and reproductive rights. The following are the most important ones.

The Use of the Constitution to Deny Contraceptive Methods

Article 76 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela establishes the integral protection of maternity and paternity. This article refers to the protection of the number of sons or daughters that one wishes to conceive and to have the information and the means to ensure the exercise of this right.

However, many people in the health profession use this article not to provide protection, but to deny access to contraceptive methods such as tubal ligation on the erroneous interpretation that the "authorization" of the couple is required. This situation, far from protecting sexual and reproductive rights, constitutes yet another form of oppression. Therefore, it is necessary that the interpretations of these laws have a rights-based and gender perspective.

What Does the LOPNNA Say About Sexual and Reproductive Rights?

On the other hand, we have Article 83 of the Constitution and Article 50 of the Organic Law on Children and Adolescents (LOPNNA). Both address access to the right to health and information on sexual and reproductive rights. They point out the obligations of the State to promote and develop policies aimed at raising the quality of life, collective welfare and access to health services for all people.

They also indicate that children and adolescents have the right to be informed and educated, according to their development, on sexual and reproductive health for sexual behavior and responsible, healthy, voluntary and safe parenthood. This is a fundamental part of the protection of sexual and reproductive rights.

The Law that Recognizes Obstetric Violence

Finally, we have the Organic Law on the Rights of Women to a Life Free of Violence, amended in 2021 in its article 19, numeral 13 and 20, which mention gynecological and obstetric violence. This law was one of the first legal resources to recognize obstetric violence in Latin America, which can be of different types: physical, verbal or psycho-affective.

The importance of regulating this type of violence stems from the fact that experiencing a situation of this type will not only affect the pregnant woman's experience of childbirth or her quality of life in the short, medium and long term, but has also been identified as a risk factor for developing mental pathology, such as postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder and the consequences derived from it. Therefore, legislative regulation (organic laws, public policies...), providing spaces for sensitization of health professionals on SRD and allowing access to information for everyone, is essential to eradicate this violence and ensure the implementation of sexual and reproductive rights.

We have a long way to go

Although Venezuela has these laws, we still have a long way to go in relation to the implementation of legislation on the defense, recognition and promotion of sexual and reproductive rights. It is important that there are regulations, public policies and manuals so that this protection of people's rights does not remain something abstract. In order to achieve effective implementation, social monitoring and community organization of activists are necessary.

At this point it is important to identify the difference between a Standard of Care and an Organic Law, the former is a provision that establishes the criteria and procedures for the care of the users of a public service, the latter is a legal norm that has a higher rank than ordinary laws and is at the top of the legal system. They are used to regulate matters affecting fundamental rights and freedoms.

Now, one of the important regulations on sexual and reproductive rights is the Comprehensive Care Standard for Sexual and Reproductive Health (NAISSR) of the Ministry of People's Power for Health (2003, Reissue 2013), which establishes the guidelines of the Public Policy on Sexual and Reproductive Health, as well as the competencies and functions of the administrative levels, and the procedures for comprehensive care in this area.

The above allows us to conclude that there is not a legal standard on sexual and reproductive health as such, but a standard of care. Therefore, it is difficult for Venezuela to effectively guarantee the protection of sexual and reproductive rights. It is therefore necessary that civil society and community collectives do advocacy work to promote legal standards that allow for comprehensive protection of these rights.

If you want to know more about your sexual and reproductive rights we invite you to visit our Forum (Spanish).



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