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What Women's Reproductive Rights Are

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A social justice issue today is women’s rights to reproduce. Women’s reproductive rights include the rights to have a safe abortion, the right to have birth control, the right to good quality health care, and the right to have knowledge to make a choice. Throughout history women’s reproductive rights have changed due to state laws or science ruling out “unsafe” options. Abortion of an unborn child was legal until the 2nd half of the 19th century (Feminist Women’s Health Center, Iowa 2006). There was much progress made for women’s reproductive rights made in the late 1900s. First, In 1965 in the court case Griswold v. Connecticut explains the decision that the supreme Court nullified a Connecticut law eliminating the use of birth control by married couples and argued that it was their marital privacy that protects the access of couples to contraceptives (National Organization for Women 2019). Secondly, in 1972 the court case Eisenstadt vs Baird declared that the court system struck down a law prohibiting the supply of birth control to unmarried adults (National Organization for Women 2019). This also goes hand and hand in the Griswold v. Connecticut case (National Organization for Women 2019). Third, a well-known case in 1973, Roe vs Wade, says the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against a Texas law prohibiting abortions not necessary to improve the woman’s life, extending the fundamental “right to privacy” to a woman’s decision to choose abortion (National Organization for Women 2019). Last, in 1976 a court case against Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth explains that the Court ruled against a Missouri statute that would force a married woman to obtain her husband’s approval before getting an abortion and ruled against a written consent from a parent requirement for minors (National Organization For Women 2019) .

Later in the 2000s advocates promoted women’s reproductive rights in the Stenburg v. Carhart in 2000 stated that the ACLU went to the court to rule Nebraska’s so-called ‘partial-birth abortion’ (2003) unconstitutional. The court denied Nebraska’s law on two grounds: the ban’s failure to contain a health exception threatened women’s health, and the ban’s language included the most common method of second-trimester abortion (ACLU 2019). In 2006, The ACLU reasoned that the case taken before the Supreme Court In an undivided ruling, the Court restated its stance that abortion restrictions must include protections for women’s health. The court trial began as a challenge to the New-Hampshire law that said doctors must delay a teenager’s abortion until after a parent was contacted within 48 hours. The lower courts disagreed and denied the law. The Supreme Court cancelled the lower courts to consider if the New Hampshire legislation would only apply this law in emergency medical situations, If not, then the law would be struck down as an entirety. In conclusion, the Court said the law must be banned in those cases where teenagers might face a medical emergency (ACLU 2019). Finally, in 2007 the court case, Gonzales vs. Carhart and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood, declared that the Patial-Abortion ban Act of 2003 constitutional. The court is signaling that “women’s health is no longer a paramount concern for the Court (Center for Reproductive Rights n.d).”

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A past women’s reproductive activist is Margaret Sanger. She made it possible for future generations to discuss the option of birth control. It was not until the 1960s that women could even receive birth control by their own choice (Gerorgetown Education n.d). In 1916, Sanger opened her own birth control clinic and she lived see the milestone when the supreme court made birth control legal for married couples in the court case Griswald v. Connecticut (Biography 2017). An active women’s reproductive rights activist goes by the name Susan Wood. Susan Wood who is now a professor at George Washington University School of Public Health and Health service has stpped down from being the top official of the FDA. In 2006, Susan Wood with the help of Hilary Clinton allowed women to purchase Plan B without a prescription at the age of 18 (Huffpost 2011) . In 2009, that age was lowered to 17 (Huffpost 2011). This is still an ongoing discussion as to how safe and effective the pill is in scientific studies.

Ongoing efforts being made to advance women’s reproductive rights is how in 2017, the federal landscape in the women’s health and rights brought back past programs used in history. These programs include the Affordable Care Act (ACA) contraceptive coverage benefits, which means people can go to their local health department and receive birth control with no charge or age requirement without parent consent. With contraceptives, Maine and New York passed a bill that required all insurance companies to cover all contraceptives up to one year with no cost-sharing. Some states also made contraceptives available over the counter or allowed pharmacists to dispense birth control without doctor’s permission. Also, states have made LARCs (long acting reversible contraceptives) more accessible. These types have decreased the amount of unwanted pregnancies, especially when gave after an abortion or post-partum.

I chose this topic because I feel that women have the right to decide when they want a child and having the ability to do so is important to me. Whether they do or do not want a child, its important to me they either have the access to contraceptives to avoid that or go with a fertility plan if unable to physically. Personal feelings that came up for me while researching this topic was yes, I am for women’s rights however in my own bias or belief system I feel like once you are pregnant then you should either have the baby and then make other plans according to if you wanted that child or not. If they have unprotected or unwanted sex, there is a “morning after pill” that will not let the embryo develop. This is a from of contraceptive that should be offered everywhere. Social justice is a core value in social work because as a social worker it is my job to fight for justice for people who do not have a voice. It is my responsibility to give the people that our typically casted away in our society their right to fundamental societal rights. As a social worker I feel like it is my ethical obligation to stay on top of my client’s rights. In reality, I feel that this will be difficult due to a lot of client’s lack of trust in the “system” due to being misguides so many times. Ethically, I want to be open and honest with my clients to create a relationship built on trust and honesty. I have learned a lot about what a person’s rights are regarding their reproductive decisions and will use this knowledge to give all my clients all the possible options when it comes to their body. I feel that I would advocate for the Aagape Women’s center that gives Christian based medical care and alternative options with consideration of women’s rights. This group helps provide several methods of birth control, adoption agencies, and alternative methods for providing rights to women who seek other options other than abortion.

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