Reproductive Rights and Global Women's Health

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The act of bringing a human being into the world is dangerous and an ultimate act of courage and self-sacrifice made by people who can become pregnant.

Major policy changes such as the US Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade will introduce unprecedented restriction to abortion care and, in some cases, access to contraception. Fear of legal repercussions can compromise care even for those who are experiencing miscarriages.

The risks of pregnancy and childbirth are much higher for those who are poor and marginalized. In the United States, maternal mortality in non-Hispanic Black women is 330% higher than that of white women, and this has gotten worse in recent years. Unfortunately, these are the same groups who will pay a higher price when reproductive rights are severely restricted.

Despite decades of improvement in access to family planning services, approximately half of pregnancies in the United States are unintended, and of these 40% are terminated, according to data from 2001-2008. Globally, 29% of all pregnancies end in induced abortion, with the proportion of unintended pregnancies ending in abortion being higher in countries where abortion is legally restricted.

Many of our global partners have now surpassed us in their support of their individual citizens’ rights to make medical decisions based on what is best for their health and the wellbeing of their families. At CGHSR and in our Global Women’s Health program, we support reproductive rights for all people.

Our partners around the globe who have fought for and won reproductive rights provide courageous examples for the United States to follow. We look forward to learning from and with our partners in the ongoing fight for reproductive rights for all.

– Dr. Rahel Nardos

Rahel Nardos, MD, MCR, is the Director of Global Women's Health at the Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility, and an Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women's Health