The Nairobi Principles on Abortion, Pre Natal Testing and Disability
In 2018, Crea convened a Global Dialogue on Abortion, Prenatal Testing and Disability in Nairobi, Kenya. This dialogue was built upon discussions at two earlier global convenings that surfaced and explored tensions between the disability and reproductive rights/women’s rights movements across contexts, particularly around issues of prenatal testing and abortion on grounds of fetal impairment.
In 2019, advocates across disability rights and reproductive rights/women’s rights movements came together to develop and adopt the “Nairobi Principles on Abortion, Prenatal Testing and Disability” – a ground-breaking document to foster cross-movement alignment. At that time, 15 organizations and 10 individuals signed on to the “Nairobi Principles”. As engagement around these issues has deepened and movement actors and activists have leaned into the work, calls were made to update the “Nairobi Principles” to ensure that they were inclusive of sexual and gender diversity and include more specific language on how ableist laws and policies promote discrimination against persons with disabilities, specifically those that directly or indirectly permit the elimination of persons with disabilities. The updated language also directly calls on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) actors to advocate for laws, policies and practices that eliminate stigma and discrimination against persons with disabilities, as well as to avoid ableist messaging.
In collaboration with a few original drafters and signatories to the “Nairobi Principles”, Crea updated the Principles to provide a bolstered platform for intersectional, cross-movement building. More than an effort to negotiate consensus across movements, the “Nairobi Principles” provide position points that are grounded in fundamental human rights standards that can be used to forge alliances across broader issues emerging at the intersections of gender, sexuality, SRH, diversity and disability.
Given the shifting legal, policy, regional, national and geopolitical contexts around abortion, advancements in prenatal testing, assisted reproductive technologies and heritable genome editing (which further open the door for eugenic initiatives), as well as long-standing gaps in legal protection and access to SRH services for persons with disabilities, including in humanitarian and crisis contexts, the need to forge consensus across movements, is stronger than ever. We hope that the update and publication of the “Nairobi Principles” can jumpstart discussions and agreement about complex issues to uplift the lives and well-being of all people, particularly women and girls with disabilities and gender-diverse persons with disabilities.