Monday, November 28, 2011

Reproductive Health As a Human Right

Access to safe reproductive healthcare is a right of everyone - men, women, adolescents. But most importantly, and something those of us in our "first world" bubble sometimes forget, it's a right regardless of what country/part of the world you live in. It's also something that governments around the world forget as you can see by this map of worldwide abortion laws created by the Center for Reproductive Rights. The disparity is easily apparent. It doesn't just fall along the lines of conservative/liberal or religious/secular; instead it's rich/poor, developed/developing.

In 2000 the United Nations created the Millennium Development Goals. These are 8 quantifiable, measurable goals that the nations around the world felt would greatly improve human rights of the most poor and vulnerable around the world. And they would, if they were actually met. The 2015 deadline for the MDGs are not to far off. We are working our way toward achieving some, but are falling far short of others. In particular, we are far from the goals related to maternal and child health: Goal 3 to promote gender equality and empower women, Goal 4 to reduce child mortality, and Goal 5 to improve maternal health. Despite this, improving women's health doesn't seem like a priority to many, especially if it enables women to take control of their own lives and bodies.

Not only would improving access to reproductive health improve the MCH related MDGs, but it would also improve others like Goal 1 to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and Goal 6 to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases. Improving reproductive health enables men and women to create sustainable families and focus on jobs and education. Not to mention that allowing women to have control over their reproductive health treats them like autonomous humans and not just baby making machines.

Reproductive health is a human right, a right everyone should have. Until the governments of the world understand that, we will always have a huge human rights disparity.


  1. Dear friends,
    your map is 1. outdated (for example Russia forbade abortion some years ago),
    and 2. overly optimistic.
    For example: I live in Germany, and the green is false. The begging procedure here is far too complicated for rape victims; I had a burnt out in rape crisis centre work because of that.
    And that was years before the infamous Hartz unsocial laws; since then many poor women do not have the means to pay for the birth control pill, even if they are voluntary heterosexual and can plan ahead.

  2. The map is the most recent I could find, and I think it's as up-to-date as exists (the date is 2011). Russia only recently created a law restricting abortion. It's still legal, just now being restricted to the 12th week.

    I can't speak for Germany as I don't know their laws, but I think these laws speak for those on the books, not for practice or accessibility. Like in the US, technically 15 states allow women to receive abortion paid for by Medicaid (if she qualifies), but in some of those states it is virtually impossible due to bureaucracy/inability of Medicaid to actually pay clinics.


This is not a debate forum -- there are hundreds of other sites for that. This is a safe space for abortion care providers and one that respects the full spectrum of reproductive choices; comments that are not in that spirit will either wind up in the spam filter or languish in the moderation queue.