The Right to Information: A Must for Reproductive Freedom

10.08.2009

Primary Content

Some of the most critical reproductive rights battles in the U.S. right now are being fought over information about reproductive health. On October 9, leading legal scholars explored how the law can protect a woman's right to information at an academic gathering organized by the Center's Law School Initiative and Harvard Law School's Human Rights Program.


U.S. Policies Deny Accurate Reproductive Health Information

While international law recognizes that a woman cannot realize her reproductive rights without accurate and comprehensive information about her reproductive health, U.S. laws and policies often either mislead women or prevent them from getting the facts they need.

Abstinence-only sex education promotes inaccurate information about birth control and sexuality. Biased counseling laws require women to receive information about abortion that is written by anti-choice politicians. Other laws, such as Oklahoma's ultrasound law, allow healthcare providers to withhold information from women about fetal abnormalities.

 

Using Human Rights to Strengthen Access to Information

The half-day gathering took place at Harvard Law School and included panels on young people's access to information, informed consent laws, and information given to women about abortion, among other topics.

"We know the human rights framework has great potential, but how do we implement it in the United States?," asked Diana Hortsch, director of the Law School Initiative. "We hope this event will help us to understand the challenges and opportunities of bringing human rights home."

The Law School Initiative aims to invigorate legal scholarship and teaching on reproductive health and human rights, with an eye towards stimulating new legal theories that can advance reproductive rights.

 

Renowned Scholar Reva Siegel Receives First Innovation in Scholarship Award

During the gathering, Center President Nancy Northup presented the Law School Initiative's first Innovation in Scholarship Award to Reva Siegel, a leading legal scholar on reproductive rights and the Nicholas de B. Katzenbach Professor of Law at Yale Law School.

Siegel concluded the gathering with a talk on dignity and decision-making in the abortion debate. She was introduced by Martha L. Minow, dean of Harvard Law School.