The fundamental idea of bodily autonomy is that everyone has the freedom to decide what happens to their bodies and what does not. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “An essential part of contemporary human rights is the concept of personal autonomy. Every person must have autonomy so that he/she can feel free to make decisions” ("Universal Declaration").
In the modern world, bodily autonomy stands as an umbrella term that covers many controversial concepts, one of those being abortion. Many women are expected to carry out their pregnancy even if it is unwanted for various reasons. These reasons include financial stability, mental well-being, age, sexual assault, and just the mere fact that some of these women do not feel ready to have a child. Many nations, however, have different perspectives on the issue. A United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report has estimated that half of all women are denied bodily autonomy. The percentage of women between the ages of 15 and 49 who are capable of making autonomous decisions regarding sex with partners, using contraception, and seeking medical attention ranged from 87% to as low as 7% across the 57 nations examined. This fundamental right is worsened in some places, where abortions have become highly restricted or even illegal, such as the United States, Poland, and Nicaragua.
Additionally, the concept of "bodily autonomy" is significant for transgender individuals. Across the world, individuals belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community have perpetually fallen victim to cruel and inhumane treatment, particularly regarding decisions over their own bodies, lifestyle, and reproductive rights. Different forms of violence directly correlate with attempts to force people into gender stereotypes; these associated molds directly violate bodily integrity. Intersex and trans people are particularly impacted by this reality, but other examples include lesbian women who are tortured through ‘corrective’ rape and all people who are subjected to "conversion therapy" practices ("Bodily Autonomy").
Photograph by Morgan Lieberman of The New York Times of a protest for bodily autonomy and women’s reproductive rights.
Consequently, there has been an increase in the efforts made to reconstruct health systems. As the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) stated, “access to transition related medical care is part of the measures ensuring bodily autonomy for trans persons; efforts to criminalize or restrict such access are concerning and represent an imminent threat to their human rights” ("Bodily Autonomy"). Organizations across the world have taken action to promote awareness and induce change. The World Health Organization (WHO) stands as an example, its aid to Member States premised on the fundamental human rights principle that all persons should have access to health services without discrimination. The adoption of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, with its commitment to "leave no one behind" and its basis in the regulatory regime of international human rights law, has reaffirmed the necessity of understanding and enhancing the health and wellbeing of LGBTQI+ people, who are frequently left behind. Inherently, WHO sets recommendations, provides technical assistance, and conducts research to improve LGBTQI+ inclusive health services and policy.
The concept of bodily autonomy reassures every individual’s sovereignty over their own body, with no exception to skin color, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. To achieve worldwide equality, bodily autonomy must be welcomed and supported by nations worldwide. IMUN is determined to achieve a successful resolution on this issue with such critical implications on humanity.
"Bodily Autonomy and Integrity." Ohchr, www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/2021-11/Summary-Bodily-Autonomy-Integrity.pdf. Accessed 17 Oct. 2022.
The Good Trade. www.thegoodtrade.com/features/reclaiming-body-autonomy-for-women. Accessed 17 Oct. 2022.
Loma Linda University Health. ihpl.llu.edu/blog/transgender-discrimination-healthcare. Accessed 17 Oct. 2022.
United Nations. www.ohchr.org/en/special-procedures/wg-women-and-girls/womens-autonomy-equality-and-reproductive-health. Accessed 17 Oct. 2022.
"Universal Declaration of Human Rights." United Nations, www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights. Accessed 17 Oct. 2022.
"Thousands Protest End of Constitutional Right to Abortion." The New York Times,
1 July 2022, www.nytimes.com/live/2022/06/24/us/
roe-wade-abortion-supreme-court. Accessed 10 Nov. 2022.
World Economic Forum. www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/03/what-is-bodily-autonomy-and-why-does-it-matter-for-women/. Accessed 17 Oct. 2022.