The Center for Reproductive Rights and its local partners continue to work in countries across five continents to advance reproductive rights and access and hold governments accountable for their obligations.
Here are just a few highlights of the Center’s work this past year:
The Center relaunched its popular World’s Abortion Laws Map with several new features to improve the user experience, including enhanced mobile viewing, scrolling narratives, improved map interactivity, greater context on global abortion trends and more.
After a five-year court battle, a health care provider and the mother of an adolescent girl were cleared of charges of procuring an abortion by a court in Makadara, Kenya. The dismissal of the case, Republic v. Samson Mwita & Grace Wanjiku, at a hearing in September aligns with earlier court rulings in Kenya declaring that it is illegal to arrest and prosecute abortion patients and providers.
The dismissal also sends a clear message affirming abortion as a health care right. “This case was about defending the rights of all Kenyan women, girls and qualified health care providers to access and provide safe abortion within the protections provided by the Kenyan Constitution,” said Martin Onyango, Associate Director of Africa Legal Strategies for the Center. The defendants were represented by the Center and the Reproductive Health Network of Kenya (RHNK).
The Center’s Asia team regularly engages with stakeholders to discuss and advance reproductive rights and health issues, and during the year, it held trainings and events with judges, lawyers, court staff, government officials, law students, advocates and others.
In Nepal, the Center organized and participated in several meetings in Kathmandu to discuss infertility, assisted reproduction and surrogacy issues with human rights experts, members of Nepal’s Parliament and Ministry of Health and Population and others. “Parliamentarians participated in a comprehensive, first-of-its-kind consultation unpacking legal issues around infertility, assisted reproduction and surrogacy,” said Prabina Bajracharya, the Center’s Associate Director of Program Operations and Administration for Asia.
Latin America and the Caribbean
With the “Green Wave” movement for abortion rights, the Latin American region has experienced tremendous progress in the advancement of reproductive rights in recent years. Rulings by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in two cases—in which the Center filed amicus briefs—will help protect pregnant people throughout the region from obstetric violence during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum.
The ruling in Britez Arce et. al. v. Argentina— a case involving a pregnant Argentinian woman whose death resulted from inadequate medical treatment—was significant because, “for the first time in its contentious jurisdiction, the Court has recognized obstetric violence as a concept of international law and as a form of violence against women,” said Fernanda Vanegas, the Center’s Associate Director of Advocacy and External Relations for Latin America and the Caribbean. In a second case, Rodríguez Pacheco et al. v. Venezuela, the Court extended protections to private health care facilities.
Women who have fled the invasion of Ukraine are at times facing yet another crisis in Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia: severe barriers in accessing reproductive health care and support services for gender-based violence. These are findings from the “Care in Crisis” report issued in May by the Center and national and international human rights organizations and presented to the European Parliament in June.
The report makes detailed recommendations to the governments of each country, the European Union, and humanitarian actors and donors on policies and practices to reduce barriers and improve access. “The health and wellbeing of some refugees from Ukraine is being placed at risk because of failures to guarantee access to essential and time-sensitive healthcare and support services, compounding the harm they have endured as a result of the invasion of Ukraine,” said Leah Hoctor, the Center’s Senior Regional Director for Europe.
The fall of Roe v. Wade in 2022 continues to bring devastating consequences to people across the country. Abortion is now illegal in 14 states, leaving millions without access to essential, time-sensitive health care—even when facing severe and dangerous pregnancy complications that risk health, lives and future fertility.
But the loss of Roe has also ignited a powerful movement to fight forward—and during the year, the Center filed groundbreaking lawsuits on behalf of dozens of women denied abortion care despite their dire situations. Some were forced to wait until they were near-death to get care; others to carry their pregnancy to term and watch their baby die soon after; and others to travel thousands of miles out of state to receive care. Some of the cases also include physicians unable to provide the medically necessary abortion care their patients need because of the harsh criminal, financial and professional penalties they face.
“Each of these women have been through the unthinkable, and reliving that trauma in court was agonizing,” said the Center’s Senior Staff Attorney Molly Duane after a hearing in Zurawski v. State of Texas. “. . .they did it to save other Texans from the same fate. They did it to hold the state of Texas accountable for the suffering their laws are causing.”
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