Reproductive health care is a human right

The National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA) believes that health equity can only be achieved by recognizing and responding to complex and integrated factors, including the unequal distribution of resources, which have created persistent health disparities. These social and economic factors that affect the health of people and vulnerable communities, also known as social determinants of health, include income, employment and job security, food security, housing conditions, access to health services and insurance status, early childhood development, education, employment, stigma, exclusion and historical trauma, among other social and economic conditions.

Reproductive health refers to any conditions that affect how reproductive systems, across all genders, function. The definition of reproductive health is much broader than what most believe, and it is important to recognize that access to reproductive health care is a human right. 

Around the world, people face troubles as they do not have the proper access to health care. Improper access to reproductive health care affects the present, as well as future generations. 

Certain aspects of reproductive health include, but are not limited to, abortion, STD testing and awareness as well as fistulas. When people do not have proper access to reproductive health care, they can become ostracized from their societies, and, of course, it affects both their physical and mental health.  

Regarding abortion, in many countries, the United States has enforced the Mexico City Policy, which is also called the Global Gag Rule. This policy prevents non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from providing aid to abortion clinics, or any counseling that involves abortion. This policy blocks crucial funding to these NGOs, which is how it exists. 

In many countries in which the Mexico City Policy is in place, child marriages and sexual assault are prevalent. These factors can lead to pregnancies in young girls, as well as unwanted pregnancies. Due to the lack of abortion clinics, young girls’ health is put at risk as they must carry the babies to term, regardless of the consequences. 

Many people see the issue of abortion as just plainly life and death of the fetus. However, in quite a few cases, the mother’s health is put at risk. If abortion is not a legal option, the mother may die in labor, increasing the risk of maternal mortality, another prevalent issue in society. Another alternative is that the mother may have an illegal, unsafe abortion. Materials for these abortions are often not sterilized and can also put the mother in grave danger. 

People must recognize that reproductive health care is a human right; everyone should have access to it in order to prevent death or disease, especially in the case of abortion. 

Abortion also goes hand-in-hand with fistulas, specifically obstetric fistulas, in the case of reproductive health care and birth. For young women in many developing nations, they have children at a young age, and are thus more prone. This can create a tear, creating an abnormal connection between the rectum and the vagina. Consequences of this include, but are not limited to, bladder and bowel incontinence, being unable to work and women being ostracized from their societies. 

Education regarding fistulas, in this case, obstetric fistulas, can go a long way to aid women. If people were more aware of fistulas, they could be mended, and there would not be such an insurmountable sigma surrounding the issue. 

STD testing and awareness affects all genders. In many countries, there is a stigma around STD testing, and those who have STDs are ostracized. Having greater awareness regarding STD testing and STDs in general can decrease people’s ignorance, and prevent people from being shunned due to a diagnosis. The people who have STDs can also be helped, thus improving their overall health as well. 

Getting tested for STDs is not something that should be so stigmatized; people should just be able to get the help that they need without others judging them. 

People all around the world must realize that access to reproductive health care is extremely important. If people are given proper access to the health care they need, many problems could easily be avoided; the maternal mortality rate could potentially decrease, leaving fewer children without a mother as well as the fact that fewer women would be shunned by society, thus improving their mental and physical health. 

Reproductive health care is a human right, and should be treated like so. People should not be refused something that is so essential to them living healthy lives. It is essential that everyone realizes this, and we all give reproductive health care the importance that it deserves.


Anika Veeraraghav is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at anika.veeraraghav@uconn.edu.