Human Rights, Feminism, and Abortion Law Reform

Human Rights, Feminism, and Abortion Law Reform

In the seminal international human rights treaties there is no express legal guarantee for abortion rights. Nevertheless, since the 1990s, women’s rights activists have used international human rights forums and mechanisms to advance abortion rights. Cumulatively, human rights law can now be said to call for the decriminalization of abortion and the legalization of abortion in cases where the pregnancy threatens the life or health of the woman, is the result of rape or incest, or there is severe fetal impairment. Despite this promising trajectory, international human rights law does not recognize a woman’s right to decide whether to carry a pregnancy to term as a matter of her autonomy, equality or self-determination. One reason for this is advocates have attempted to follow the path of least resistance for abortion rights and focused instead on the right to health, the right to be free from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and the right to privacy. Recognizing unsafe abortion as a major public...
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The Value of Big Data for Family Planning

The Value of Big Data for Family Planning

While the use of modern methods of contraception are now commonplace in many countries, one-third of women in developing countries who begin using a modern method of contraception quit within the first year and half quit within two years[i]. Most discontinuation occurs among women who want to avoid pregnancy putting them at risk for unwanted pregnancies, maternal morbidity and mortality[ii]. Traditional measures of contraceptive use are collected retrospectively from population representative surveys conducted only every five years which are not well-suited to measuring contemporary trends in contraceptive discontinuation. This is problematic because advocates and health ministries cannot address concerns in a reasonable amount of time to impact widespread change. "Big Data" can supplement these static sources by providing dynamic, real time tracking of the reasons women discontinue using contraceptives and open up possibilities to prevent discontinuation or help facilitate switching between methods. So what exactly is "Big Data" and how can it supplement traditional reproductive health data? Big data is commonly thought...
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A Win for Reproductive Health in the Philippines

A Win for Reproductive Health in the Philippines

Reproductive health activists in the Philippines have to cause to celebrate, as the country has dissolved a major impediment to women exercising autonomy over their bodies.  A Nov. 10 advisory from the Philippine Food and Drug Administration verified 51 contraceptives as “non-abortifacient” after backlash from pro-life organizations prompted a governmental review. In a momentous win for women, the country’s 2012 Reproductive Health Law ensured those "living in the deeply Catholic and densely populated nation universal access to contraception, fertility control and maternal care, and mandated sex education in schools,” according to the New York Times. However, allegations equating contraceptives with abortifacients prompted the Supreme Court to impose partial restrictions on the law in 2015, effectively revoking crucial rights the Reproductive Health Law afforded women. A July ruling required FDA clearance of the contraceptives to lift the restraining order. The administration's list, published Sunday, includes injectables, intrauterine devices and pills, as well as implants, of which the Philippine health department has more than 200,000...
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Notes from the Field: Uganda

Notes from the Field: Uganda

This summer, after a long, solo trip across the world, I arrived in East Africa for the first time. As a Master of Science in Global Health student at Duke University, I spent my first year paired with a mentor, Dr. Megan Huchko, working as a research assistant. During that time we worked together to design a research study which I would conduct the following summer in Kenya. Dr. Huchko and I chose to interview HPV positive women from her ongoing cluster-randomized trial to find ways to reduce the substantial loss to follow up seen with a two-visit screen and treat strategy.  Upon entering this program, I knew I wanted to work in women’s reproductive health. Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer in women in Africa, so having the opportunity to have a hand in research being conducted to reduce that burden is a privilege. Our goal was to improve treatment acquisition among HPV positive women, to reduce...
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Contraception offered in Rohingya Camps

Contraception offered in Rohingya Camps

Over 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh to escape persecution in Myanmar, and are currently living in crowded and under-resourced refugee camps. Reproductive health services are often non-existent or severely limited in refugee camps, yet these services are desperately needed by women and girls living in the camps. Bangladesh has begun to offer birth control pills, injectables, and condoms in the camps, and is hiring more staff to offer reproductive health services, including family planning counseling. This is not a service that should be optional in refugee camps, and we hope services continue as long as they are needed....
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#notwithoutrepro

#notwithoutrepro

On Thursday November 2nd, Ivanka Trump traveled to Japan to speak at the World Assembly of Women. In her remarks, Trump commented on the importance of shaping a more realistic picture of women who work (be it in the home, outside, or a combination of both), and that women need to be afforded the same opportunities as their male peers. As she talked about her daughter, she said: "It is my hope that by the time my daughter Arabella grows into a woman, she will not be defined by whether she works inside or outside the home. She will simply be a woman afforded the same opportunities as her male peers and equipped with the education and support she needs to fulfill her unique potential." For her daughter, or girls around the world to do this? They need access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare. Without the ability to decide and control their reproductive futures, girls choices are taken away from them. They will...
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