For more than 60 years, the United States has joined most countries of the world in formally recognizing and committing to protect the fundamental human rights set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These include the rights to life, equality, privacy, medical care, information, education, and freedom from discrimination.
The United States has also joined the U.N. General Assembly in recognizing the special challenges faced by those who promote and defend these rights. These courageous people are known as human rights defenders. In the 1998 Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the General Assembly acknowledged the important role that the governments play in ensuring that they can function effectively and safely.
At the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, governments explicitly acknowledged that reproductive rights are human rights, grounded in existing human rights instruments, which include the Universal Declaration. These rights include a woman’s right to make decisions about her life and family, to access reproductive health services, and to decide when and whether to have children. In the United States, the Supreme Court recognized women’s constitutional right to abortion in 1973.
Despite domestic and international recognition of these rights, however, many women in the United States face severe impediments to obtaining abortion services. This report focuses on a key obstacle to the realization of women’s reproductive rights, the challenges faced by abortion providers, and recognizes their work as human rights defenders. These challenges come in many forms, from harassment and intimidation of doctors and clinics to legal restrictions that single out abortion providers. But they all have a common purpose: preventing clinics from providing reproductive health services and women from exercising their right to obtain abortions.
Download the Executive Summary to read more.