The Center for Reproductive Rights and its local partners made significant progress around the globe in building, enforcing and defending reproductive rights. While in the U.S. we defended against the most extreme attacks on abortion rights in decades, our work helped to advance reproductive rights and hold governments accountable for their obligations in countries throughout the world.
Here are just a few of the Center’s 2021 achievements in each region:
For years, the Tanzanian government has forced public schoolgirls to undergo pregnancy testing and permanently expelled them if they were pregnant. Now those girls, as well as adolescent mothers, will be able to continue their educations after the country announced an end to this discriminatory and oppressive policy. The announcement was made just days after the Center and its partner in Tanzania, the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), argued its case challenging the policy before the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) on November 22. The case was brought on behalf of six Tanzanian girls who were expelled from school for being pregnant. Read more.
After years of advocacy by the Center and its Nepal-based partners, the government of Nepal agreed to decriminalize abortion and protect the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of women and girls. The move came with Nepal’s acceptance of the Report of the Working Group of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Nepal before the United Nations Human Rights Council. Earlier, the Center and its partners made a joint submission for the UPR report that focused on the legal and procedural barriers to accessing safe abortion services and the impact of COVID-19 on SRHR in the country. Read more.
With increased threats to sexual and reproductive rights, the European Parliament passed a resolution affirming that sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are fundamental human rights that must be upheld by all European Union member states. This first SRHR resolution passed by the Parliament in almost 20 years calls for removal of all barriers in access to abortion, modern contraception, quality maternal health care, assisted reproductive technologies and comprehensive sexuality education. The Center works with a broad group of stakeholders to advance and protect SRHR across the region and provided resources and support to Parliament members leading the initiative. Read more.
Latin America and the Caribbean
In a case argued at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Chile agreed to reform its policies to protect against forced sterilization and discrimination for people living with HIV. The case was brought by the Center and its Chilean partner, Vivo Positivo, on behalf of “Francisca”—an HIV-positive woman who was sterilized without her consent after giving birth to a healthy baby. The doctors at the hospital performed the surgical sterilization because they thought it was irresponsible for an HIV-positive woman to have more children. Chile will also pay reparations to “Francisca” and her family. Read more.
In a landmark ruling, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights established standards throughout the region to help protect women seeking reproductive health care, including abortion. The ruling in Manuela v. El Salvador also deemed El Salvador responsible for the death of Manuela, a woman who in 2008 was unjustly sentenced to 30 years in prison for aggravated homicide after suffering an obstetric emergency that resulted in her pregnancy loss. Manuela died imprisoned two years later after receiving inadequate medical diagnosis and treatment for her cancer. Health care staff in countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean under the Court’s jurisdiction can no longer refer women to law enforcement who come to the hospital seeking abortion care and other reproductive health services. Read more.
Defending and Protecting Abortion Rights
The Center argued several cases against restrictive state abortion laws, including two cases at the U.S. Supreme Court. In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—the most consequential abortion rights case in generations—we challenged Mississippi’s pre-viability abortion ban passed in direct violation of Roe v. Wade. A decision is expected this spring. In Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson, we are continuing efforts to challenge Texas’s blatantly unconstitutional abortion ban and vigilante scheme after the Supreme Court refused to block it.
After years of advocacy by the Center and its coalition partners, the House of Representatives passed the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA)— marking the first time in history that the House passed legislation specifically designed to protect the right to abortion access nationwide. The Center also engaged with the new Biden-Harris administration in support of its efforts to protect reproductive rights in global and domestic policy and to undue the harmful policies of the Trump-Pence administration.
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