Women’s reproductive rights is one of the most controversial topics in the sphere of politics nowadays. Many laws have been passed across the world which limit or sometimes further allow women to have reproductive rights.
Organizations have been formed which campaign in support of women’s reproductive rights.
If women have reproductive health and rights, then they can be strong and empowered, thus further allowing for our world to flourish.
What are Women’s Reproductive Rights?
Reproductive rights, in general, are loosely defined as the rights of all couples and people to decide how many children they would like to have and when they would like to have children.
It also includes people having the proper information they need when it comes to having children and having access to services which will allow them to have the best reproductive and sexual health possible.
Reproductive rights also allow for people to make these decisions without force, discrimination, and violence.
Women’s reproductive rights tend to be more specific, and can refer to:
- a woman’s right to birth control and other contraceptives,
- the right to a legal and safe abortion,
- freedom from taking forced contraception or being forcefully sterilized,
- having proper reproductive healthcare,
- the right to education and to receive education about sexuality and sexually transmitted decisions,
- the ability to make informed and proper reproductive decisions,
- being protected from certain practices which are damaging and barbaric for women, such as female genital mutilation.
All of these issues tend to be some of the biggest political topics worldwide today, and some of the biggest topics for discussion, protest, and legislation. Starting in 1968, during the United Nations International Conference on Human Rights, reproductive rights began to be classified as human rights.
It is estimated that 225 million women across the world want but lack access to any sort of contraception. Around 800 women die every day from pregnancy and childbirth, and from causes which are usually preventable.
Laws Regarding Women’s Reproductive Rights Worldwide
The status of laws regarding women’s reproductive rights worldwide tends to vary greatly. In some countries, abortion and birth control are completely safe and legal, whereas, in others, they are not. Many countries have much stricter laws than others.
El Salvador is considered the country with the strictest laws regarding reproductive rights. It is one of five countries, which also include Malta, Vatican City, Chile, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua, where abortion is banned no matter the circumstance, even if the reason is to save the mother’s life.
No matter the circumstance, whether it be because of rape, incest, underage, problems with mental or physical health, severe problems with the baby, or if their lives are at risk, women are not allowed to have abortions in El Salvador.
If a woman is caught pursuing an illegal abortion, she will face two to eight years in jail, and the medical practitioner who carried out the abortion can face anywhere up to twelve years in jail. Abortion, overall, is legal under certain conditions in most countries, but these conditions vary greatly.
- 97 percent of countries allow abortion if it is to save the mother’s life.
- 51 percent allow abortion if the reason for the pregnancy was rape or incest
- 30 percent allow for it solely based on the woman’s request.
It tends to be the case that countries in Europe which are more adamantly Catholic than others have stricter laws on abortion or may even ban it entirely, such as in Malta or Vatican City.
This is also the case for Latin America, which as a region has the strictest abortion laws in the world. Most formerly communist nations have rather liberal laws.
In the United States, in 1973, abortion was legalized throughout the nation with the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. However, the ability to access abortions can vary in every state and county.
According to the United Nations, over 63 percent of women in some form of formal relationship (usually defined as marriage or a civil union) relied on some sort of contraceptive.
Female sterilization and IUD are the most common forms of contraception.
Other forms include birth control pills, male and female condoms, injectable contraception, the calendar method (looking out for which days during a woman’s cycle she is most and least fertile), and the withdrawal (sometimes referred to as pull-out) method.
There has been an 8.3 percent increase in the use of contraceptives worldwide since 1994. Africa as a continent has the least amount of women using some form of contraception due to limited access, cost, and beliefs regarding whether or not contraception is damaging to a woman’s reproductive health.
Many people in countries throughout Africa believe that contraception can harm the womb, the future baby, and the mother. The top form of contraception in the United States and most of North America, excluding Canada, is female sterilization.
In Canada, the most common form is male sterilization. The former Soviet Union commonly uses male condoms, while many other countries tend to use birth control pills and IUD.
The effectiveness of different forms of contraception varies
Female sterilization is considered to be 99.5 percent effective, and male sterilization is considered to be 99.85 percent effective.
Despite male sterilization being proven to be more effective and easier to carry out, female sterilization still remains more common. IUDs are approximately 99.2 to 99.98 percent effective, and they are the most common method of birth control in China.
Male condoms are used all across the world, especially in Korea, and are considered to be 82 percent effective, and also can help prevent HIV and other STDs. The birth control pill, when taken normally, is approximately 91 percent effective, but according to the NHS, is over 99 percent effective when used correctly, which means every day at approximately the same time.
In Iran and much of Southern Europe and Western Asia, the withdrawal method is considered to be the most common, despite the fact that it is not as effective- only 78 percent.
Many countries in southern Africa particularly use injectable types of birth control, which are considered to be 94 percent effective.
While contraception is not necessarily banned by laws across the world, there are some obstacles facing access to contraception. One of the most common is the cost and lack of availability.
Some other factors can include dependence on providers for information, provider bias, lack of access to services for family planning, lack of choices in birth control methods, poor quality in these services, and in some places, cultural factors can take precedence, such as cultural or religious opposition, fear of there being adverse effects to contraception, or gender-based barriers which prevent obtaining birth control.
Organizations Dedicated to Supporting Women’s Reproductive Health
Women’s reproductive rights Organization #1 | The United Nations Population Fund & World Health Organization
The United Nations Population Fund and the World Health Organization are among the many organizations which support women’s reproductive health.
These organizations focus on several issues regarding women’s reproductive rights, such as furthering access to services for family planning, advancing sexual education worldwide, and the relationship between one’s economic status and reproductive health.
Women’s reproductive rights Organization #2 | The Global Fund for Women
The Global Fund for Women is another such organization.
According to their website, they support women’s reproductive rights because the organization believes that women can be fully empowered to recognize all of their rights when they are allowed to control their own bodies, have access to all of the health services necessary, and when they are free of sexual violence and are knowledgeable on all of their sexual and reproductive rights.
Women’s reproductive rights Organization #3 | Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood is one of the most popular and controversial organizations that supports women’s reproductive rights. It has become a controversial topic lately due to different politicians and groups in the United States speaking out against it.
But in any case, Planned Parenthood is a non-profit organization which is one of the top providers of safe, affordable, and high-quality healthcare for men and women. It is also considered America’s top provider of sexual education.
This organization provides many different services regarding reproductive and sexual health, including general health care services, screening for cancer, vasectomy and other sterilization services, women’s services, pregnancy services, STD testing, treatment, and vaccines, men’s health services, emergency contraception, birth control, and abortion referral and services.
Planned Parenthood also helps organizations in countries outside the United States to provide services, information, and other resources to young people worldwide.
Its goals are to provide young women and men with sexual and reproductive education, provide contraceptives, increase access to treatment and especially safe treatment, prevent unsafe abortions and instead advocate for safe ones (if one desires to have an abortion), and advocating for laws which support women’s health and treatment especially in Latin America and Africa.
There are other organizations which seek to advance women’s reproductive rights worldwide which also have the same goals. Because of these organizations and education, many people have been able to have access to safer treatment and contraception.
Overall, women’s reproductive rights have greatly advanced over the past few decades. However, many women still have limited access to proper education and safe services, which prevents them from being as healthy as possible.
With the right treatment and education, women’s lives worldwide can become safer and happier.
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