Maternal Health

The Center for Reproductive Rights seeks to ensure that everyone has access to quality and respectful maternal health care when they need it. We work to reduce maternal health disparities and improve outcomes by holding governments accountable for their human rights obligations and addressing discrimination and failures to respect women’s autonomy and physical integrity.

Summary

Regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, immigration or financial status, everyone has the right to respectful and quality maternal health care, free from discrimination, coercion and violence. Yet worldwide, almost 300,000 women die each year during pregnancy and childbirth and countless others experience discrimination, ill-treatment and abuse in maternal health care settings. The poorest and most marginalized populations consistently face the greatest risks during pregnancy and childbirth due to discrimination, inadequate access to health services, and underinvestment in guaranteeing universal access to care. 

The Center works to improve access to respectful, quality, non-discriminatory maternal health care throughout the world through advocacy, litigation, and human rights research and fact-finding. Collaborating with partners and ally organizations in countries across the world, we raise awareness about human rights violations in maternal health care settings, galvanize political engagement, and hold governments accountable for preventable maternal deaths and morbidities.

Key Facts

810

Women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.

99%

Of maternal deaths occur in developing countries.

1/3

Of women experienced abuse and ill-treatment in a WHO study of four developing countries.

Cases and Work

Explore highlights of our work on maternal health and rights.

Research report on the negative effects of Colombia’s fumigation program on fertility and pregnancy. Photo credit: Federic Ríos

A fact-finding report on the impact of COVID-19 on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls in Pakistan.

Addressing the entrenched challenges faced by marginalized groups in obtaining maternal health care.

Publications and More

African Rights Commission to Hear Case on Maternal Deaths card link

African Rights Commission to Hear Case on Maternal Deaths

This complaint against Nigeria will be the Commission’s first-ever case on maternal mortality. Read more.

Leading on Normative Development at the Human Right Council card link

Leading on Normative Development at the Human Right Council

Resolutions on maternal mortality and humanitarian situations. Read more.

Maternal Health and Rights Initiative card link

Maternal Health and Rights Initiative

This program works to improve access to safe and respectful maternal health care and to promote the human rights of pregnant, birthing, and postpartum people in the United States. Read more.

Perilous Pregnancies: Health Care for Undocumented Migrant Women in the EU card link

Perilous Pregnancies: Health Care for Undocumented Migrant Women in the EU

A report showcasing the failures of EU member states to remove legal and policy barriers that impede undocumented migrant women’s access to affordable maternal health care throughout pregnancy. Read more.

Kenya: Detention and Abuse of Women Seeking Maternal Health Services Violates Human Rights card link

Kenya: Detention and Abuse of Women Seeking Maternal Health Services Violates Human Rights

A report on a groundbreaking judgment recognizing that the detention and abuse of women who are unable to pay for maternity services at Kenyan public hospitals violates Kenyan constitutional and international human rights standards. Read more.

Alyne da Silva Pimentel v. Brazil card link

Alyne da Silva Pimentel v. Brazil

This landmark ruling recognized that States have a human rights obligation to address maternal mortality. Read more.

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