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Reproductive Justice

This guide provides a starting point to learn about reproductive rights, abortion, birth control, and reproductive justice.

Reproductive rights refer to the rights of couples and individuals to determine when and whether to have children as well as their rights to access information and services related to reproductive health. Though reproductive rights are often discussed in relation to access to safe, legal abortions, these rights also relate to the availability of birth control, sex education and outreach, access to fertility resources, maternal and prenatal health care, and freedom from forced or coerced pregnancy, abortion, and sterilization.

The US Constitution does not explicitly protect reproductive rights. In 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled in Roe v. Wade that the Fourteenth Amendment protected a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy. Although this technically allowed at least some abortion access options for Americans, the decades of subsequent political and legal campaigns from opponents resulted in SCOTUS overturning its previous decision on June 24, 2022. Because of this, abortions are now illegal once again in many states, and its accessibility is threatened or heavily restricted in many more areas of the country.

Still, state and local governments determine most policies related to reproductive rights. Advocates continue seeking to affirm reproductive rights through new legislation, litigation, and public outreach. Such advocacy still faces significant pushback from organizations that oppose family planning, particularly pregnancy termination and contraceptive use, largely due to religious objections. Like reproductive rights advocates, these organizations have used both the law and public opinion to promote their perspectives.

  • Reproductive rights involve having access to information related to reproductive health and being able to make decisions about personal reproductive health.
  • For many years, information related to sex, including information about contraceptive use or abortion services, could not legally be sent through the mail.
  • The debate over reproductive rights often focuses on a woman's right to choose whether to have an abortion and whether the laws governing abortion impede upon a woman's right to privacy or a health-care worker's ability to do their job.
  • Limited understanding and awareness about sex and reproductive health have been linked to increased rates of sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies, and abortions.
  • Though many types of birth control are covered by insurance and many forms of contraceptives can be obtained without a prescription, millions of Americans still lack access to the full range of birth control methods.

 

The above content was adapted from the following source: Reproductive Rights. (2022). In Gale Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection. Gale. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/PC3010999318/OVIC?u=purdue_main&sid=bookmark-OVIC&xid=e29cd11e 

History of Reproductive Rights