Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Reproductive Rights in the USA

Out of the roughly 4 million births which were reported in the 2006 US Census;
-more than a one fourth were to unmarried women.
-almost 30% were to women under the age of 25.
-roughly one fourth were to women living below the poverty level.
-women living under the poverty level have a fertility level twice as high as those living at 200% of the poverty level.

There are many aspects to consider when it comes to reproductive rights in the United States. These include; birth control, emergency contraception, and abortion. When looking at any of these issues through the lens of feminist theory, the main connections are the ideas of power and responsibility (both financial and emotional)

Birth Control:
Birth control is available in multiple forms throughout the US. Medicaid is the US health care system provided to those living below the poverty line. Considering the high fertility rate among this population, I would like to consider how Medicaid deals with this issue. In every state, Medicaid plans include provisions for prescription birth control, while only some states include provisions for other forms, including over the counter supplies such as condoms. Prescription birth control pills must be taken everyday by a woman. The woman also must visit a doctor to obtain the prescription. Whatever cost is not covered by Medicaid will also fall to the woman. Most forms of birth control, including condoms, are expensive. By providing only for prescription birth control pills, Medicaid puts the burden of responsibility onto women, instead of men.

Emergency Contraception and Abortion:
While laws and policies differ from state to state, the majority of states have some type of policy which takes the decision to use emergency contraception away from the women, and puts it into the hands of doctors, pharmacists, and the government. When a woman makes the decision to request emergency contraception, numerous states leave it up to the doctors to decide weather or not to prescribe it, based on their own beliefs. Even if the doctor does decide to provide the prescription, many states also allow the pharmacist to decide weather or not they will then fill this prescription. In at least one state, doctors are even allowed to refuse emergency contraception to women who have been victim to sexual assault.
The issues surrounding abortion are very similar to those surrounding emergency contraception. While all of the responsibility for the pregnancy and life of a child will fall to the women, in many places, the decision is not left up to her, or at least not her alone. There is also a huge emotional and psychological burden involved in making the decision to use emergency contraception or to abort. When a woman has made the decision to seek either option, they still might have the power for making that decision stripped from them.

Reflection Questions:
Why do you believe that women are often expected to be responsible for birth control?
Should the federal or state government play a part in reproductive rights?

For more information, including state-by-state policies on abortion and emergency contraception, visit http://www.guttmacher.org/

Posted by Bri Connolly


  1. This post was really informative and I think really got to the core of the main issue surrounding reproductive rights. I think that when it comes to reproduction in general, it is seen as more feminine than masculine. Women are given all of the responsibility of preventing reproduction, going through with a pregnancy, then raising and caring for the children once they are born. Biologically, there is less at stake for a man in a sexual relationship because he has no chance of getting himself pregnant. Therefore I think that it is seen as a woman's responsibility to protect herself from pregnancy.

    I think that the government should not dictate the extent of reproductive rights. A woman's right to make decisions about her body should not be infringed upon by lawmakers or doctors or pharmacies. Reproduction and abortion are not subjects to be taken lightly, but the women who are faced with the decision need to have the ability to make that decision for themselves.

  2. I agree with what was said above about the article being very informative and interesting.I believe that women are most certainly seen as responsible when it comes to reproduction and pregnancy.The major question is whether the girl was on birth control not necessarily if the man was wearing a condom.I think this is unfair for many reasons and believe women should not be held with such responsibility to deal with mainly on their own.
    I believe women are responsible for birth control because society has made it the girl's responsibility to protect themselves and if they don't then that is their problem. It disappoints me that women are almost put to blame for many incidents resulting in unexpected pregnancies. Overall, I think you did a very good job at addressing the major issues arising from reproductive rights.

  3. In agreement with the other two comments, I find this information to be fascinating and compelling. Truthfully, I do believe that women are found responsible more often than not for birth control becase they are the ones who become pregnant. Yes, it does take 'two to tango', but the woman is the one who is going to carry (or choose not to carry) the baby for nine months then raise (or chooses not to raise) the chld. Whereas the man in te relationship can just up and leave her with all of the responsibility, in which case, many men do. In tha case, it is seen that wome haveto do more to protect themselves because they are able to become pegnant. I also agree with the previous comment that it is often seen as the woman's fault if she becomes pregnant because it was she who decided not to be on birth control, not the man who decided not to wear a condom. This is extremely horrible that women are at fault for getting pregnant and bear all of the responsibility of pregnancy and child bearing because men too are at fault. Women cannot just inpregnate themselves.
    I believe that the federal and state governments should not hve any say in what happens to a woman or her child. As a believer of pro-choice, I feel that a woman should be allowed to make the choices that she wants to. I think women are perfecly capable of making decisions about their what they feel isrght for them regarding reproduction.
    This information was presented very well and it is very informative. I think this is a very controversial issue and I know many people have a lot to say about it. I think it allows people to see how the rights of some groups of people are 'messed with' because the government, whether states or federal, tries to control it.

    Charda Davis

  4. I feel like people believe that women should be responsible for birth control because the actual event takes place in their body, which makes them responsible for it, YET, people also believe that a woman can't make decisions about her reproduction..It's a complete double standard and really not fair to the woman in my opinion. I believe women should have full reign over their bodies, and be able to do whatever is right for them, which only they know.

  5. "women living under the poverty level have a fertility level twice as high as those living at 200% of the poverty level."

    This point was very upsetting to me, and I think birth control needs to be more accessible and affordable. Birth control should not be a luxury.

    I feel the state and government should not play a part in reproductive rights. I believe there are other things for them to focus on and that birth control and reproductive rights are too much of a personal subject.

    I completely agree with what Sally said about believing women should have full reign over their bodies. She is exactly right when she says they should "be able to do whatever is right for them, which only they know."

    -Courtney Hopkins

  6. I agree with all the comments posted above. I believe that it is a woman's responsibility to protect them selves and use birth control or condoms. Yes, they are expensive, but having a child and raising a child are even more expensive. Paying the 30 dollars every 3 months for birth control will pay off in the future and prevent unexpected pregnancies from occurring. A man cannot force a women to take birth control therefore I feel that it is put on the women to take responsibility for herself and do so. Along with the government and state being involved with the decisions to hand out these emergency contraceptives I feel that it is not their choose whether or not they want to hand it out. They should be able to choose whether they want to take it or not and not be limited by the federal or state government. Like Courtney said, it is their body and they should be able to do whats right for them and what they want. Very interesting topic chosen to blog about.

  7. Although this information is very upsetting, America has come a long way in the past 50 years concerning birth control and abortion. I've been reading The Girls Who Went Away for our semester book choice and it explains how women between the end of WWII and Roe v Wade had to be sent away to maternity homes so they wouldn't humiliate and ruin their families reputation if they weren't married. Reading this book is very difficult especially as a female because all the burden was put on the women, which is still unfortunately true. They were forced to surrender their newborns while the men just went on with their lives and weren't effected at all. These girls lost all their friends, were manipulated by these maternity homes and never told of their rights (to keep their babies and file for child support), and couldn't step foot outside these homes unless they wanted to have eggs and other objects thrown at them. Although some of this can still exist in some places, at least girls and society are more aware and have more options today.

    It upsets me that government tries to regulate these things because policy makers are for the most part men. I don't think men should be able to decide these types of things because it's impossible for them to ever completely understand what it would be like to find themselves in a situation which these laws may change the rest of their lives.

  8. Very interesting topic! It is really interesting to look at how different cultures have reproductive rights. It also very interesting to read some of the provided statistics especially learning that out of the births reported in 2006 one fourth of those births were to women who live below the poverty level. Showing that sometimes women who need to know about these rights the most might not due to access and affordability. I personally believe that the federal government should federally make reproductive rights available to people living in all areas of the country as opposed to making it a state level. Though I also believe that it should not be something that just women should have to worry about because men are involved in the process of conception just as much as the women are the only difference is that the women has the burden of carrying the fetus for nine months and then delivering it. Reproductive rights only being a women’s issue is probably part of the patriarchal society that we are still under in this day and age that should likely be abolished.

    -Laura Hickey