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Defining reproductive rights

Although a massive step forward in a progressive direction, Roe v. Wade did not begin or end the fight for reproductive rights.

The passing of the 1973 Supreme Court decision established women’s legality to have an abortion under the protection of the Constitution as precedent.

The topic of reproductive rights remains hotly debated among political groups and the public.

Reproductive rights, per the Merriam Webster definition, are the rights a woman has to decide whether or not to have a child. Organizations throughout the nation have made it their mission to ensure these rights are not infringed upon by those in political authority.

“We envision a world where every person participates with dignity as an equal member of society, regardless of gender,” states The Center for Reproductive Rights‘ mission page. “Where every woman is free to decide whether or when to have children and whether to get married; where access to quality reproductive health care is guaranteed; and where every woman can make these decisions free from coercion or discrimination.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League and Planned Parenthood are organizations that have spearheaded reproductive health protection.

As early as the 20th century, women have made notable motions towards gaining their reproductive health care rights.

According to the Planned Parenthood site, Margaret Sanger, the founder of the nonprofit, established the first birth control clinic in 1916. However, within a week she was arrested and had her clinic shut down. Her first attempt in providing reproductive health care resulted in a months-worth of jail time, but her endeavor drew much attention to her trail-blazing cause.

According to a FindLaw article focusing on reproductive rights, before 1965, “Comstock Laws” were set in place preventing the sale or distribution of information regarding contraceptives and birth control.

When Griswold v. Connecticut passed, married couples gained their rights to access contraceptives and this information. Years later, the same access was opened up to single women.

Today, Sanger’s first criminal clinic lives on as Planned Parenthood, which serves communities nationwide in areas not only to do with female contraception but also in services such as cancer screenings and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections for all genders.

“The mission of Planned Parenthood is to provide comprehensive reproductive and complementary health care services in settings which preserve and protect the essential privacy and rights of each individual,” the Planned Parenthood mission statement says.

However, regardless of its other reproductive health services, Planned Parenthood has been a target for anti-abortion organizations.

Planned Parenthood provides free enrollment to FamilyPlanning, Access, Care, Treatment, a California state-funded program for low-income individuals who may or may not have health insurance. Still, their insurance does not cover all family-planning services such as birth control.

Planned Parenthood also provides confidentiality of reproductive health services to minors and adults who share their insurance plans with family members whom they’d prefer not to disclose their information.

“Say, the student is under 18,” said Long Beach State registered nurse Tressa McCullough. “If they were coming here for medical services, they would need consent from their parents unless it is reproductive health services.”

McCullough states that the university provides college students with different types of birth control pills and condoms at Student Health Services. They are free for those enrolled in Family PACT.

Other contraceptive methods offered include the once-a-month Depo-Provera injection, the NuvaRing vaginal ring, the Nexplanon implant and two different types of IUDs. A gynecologist is on staff three days out of the week at their site.

“They don’t have to have their parents’ permission to get birth control or have STI testing,” McCullough said. “There is, you know, HIPAA laws in place so their medical records are confidential.”

For more information on how you can access reproductive health care, contact your primary medical provider, or a Planned Parenthood near you.

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