Concerns About Burma's Health Care for Population Control Bill

Press Statement
Jeff Rathke
Director, Office of Press Relations
Washington, DC
May 19, 2015

The United States is deeply concerned about legislative passage of the Health Care for Population Control Bill in Burma, paving the way for it to be enacted into law. This bill and the three other draft bills to purportedly “protect race and religion,” which address religious conversion, interfaith marriage, and monogamy, contain provisions that could be enforced in a manner that would undermine respect for reproductive rights, women’s rights, and religious freedom.

We are particularly concerned that the Health Care for Population Control Bill could provide a legal basis for discrimination through coercive, uneven application of birth control policies, and differing standards of care for different communities across the country. The passage of this bill runs counter to the government’s public commitment to provide affordable and equal access to family planning and could place limitations on the reproductive freedom of women and girls and their ability to make informed and voluntary decisions about their sexual and reproductive health. The vagueness of this bill could lead to abuse and discriminatory application.

Taken together, this bill and the three others, if enacted, could further marginalize members of ethnoreligious minorities and undermine their hopes for democracy, development, and peace. The dangerous impact of these bills has already been demonstrated when some women who spoke out against the bills were subject to sexual harassment and death threats. We strongly urge the government to ensure the protection of all people, accountability for those who engage in these activities, and uphold its international human rights commitments in the application of this bill, including those set forth in the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.