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Reproductive rights refer to the rights of couples and individuals to determine when and whether to have children as well as their rights to access information and services related to reproductive health. Though reproductive rights are often discussed in relation to access to safe, legal abortion, they also include the availability of birth control, sex education and outreach, access to fertility resources, maternal and prenatal health care, and freedom from forced or coerced pregnancy, abortion, and sterilization.

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Key Terms & Concepts

  • Abortion
    • medical abortion; abortifacients
  • Artificial insemination
  • Birth control or contraception/contraceptive
    • hormonal: "the pill," IUDs
      • attempts to create male birth control
      • hormonal birth control used to treat other medical conditions
    • barrier: condoms, diaphragms
    • Plan B emergency contraception
  • Birth defects, viability
    • ectopic pregnancies
  • Bodily autonomy
  • Child support
  • Consent
  • D&C - dilation and curettage
  • Ectopic pregnancy - unviable implantation, potentially fatal
  • Exceptions for rape, incest
  • Fertility treatment, infertility
    • assisted reproductive technology (ART)
      • intrauterine insemination (IUI)
      • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
      • gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) and zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT)
  • First Amendment rights - freedom of religion: not all religions believe life begins at conception.
  • Maternal health
    • prenatal care
    • maternal mortality and morbidity
    • See also: Health Care page of this guide
  • Miscarriage
  • Parental leave (from work) - maternity leave, paternity leave
  • Plan B or morning-after pill - emergency contraception
  • Privacy rights
  • Reproductive health
  • Sexual education
    • abstinence-only vs comprehensive
    • opt-in policy (parental permission for student to receive sex ed)
  • Sterilization - voluntary or forced
    • tubal ligation
    • hysterectomy
    • vasectomy
  • Surrogacy


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About This Page

This page was originally developed by Elaine Patton.

First published: September 2023