Female Reproductive Rights Are Human Rights Too


The issue of female reproductive rights has been on the sociopolitical agenda of the U.S. for several decades, yet the participants of the argument have come close to any semblance of a reasonable solution for addressing the issue of sex-based oppression that women face. Instead, the discourse has been turning increasingly more heated, particularly, due to a string of laws removing access to abortion for women in a number of states. Women have been subjugated to sex-based oppression for millennia, which has culminated in atrocities such as rape and female genital mutilation (FGM). The restriction of access to abortion is another symptom of the propensity toward infringing upon women’s sex-based rights and the need to control women, which is why protecting the right to have and be able to use abortion services is vital for women.

Claiming that the discourse around abortion is the issue of morality is inherently wrong. A range of prominent supporters of women’s rights and feminist theorists have pointed out that if men could get pregnant, the right to abortion would be written into the law (Wallace et al. 124). Therefore, due to the specifics of women’s sex, their sex-based rights, including the right to abortion, the right to access birth control options, and the right to receive sex education must be upheld and promoted not only statewide, but also on a global scale.

Statement of Facts

Wallace et al. define female reproductive rights as “the ability to decide whether and when to have children,” although the specified definition is admittedly narrow and needs to include the education aspect, as well as the protection against sex-based discriminatory actions against women, such as FGM (121). Presently, the concept of female reproductive rights has been expanded to include the chance for sex education along with the ability to make informed decisions independently and select the procedures required for maintaining reproductive health accordingly, including the choice of abortion, tubal ligation, etc. (Ott et al. 146). Another important point concerns the right not to undergo the procedures and practices that are inherently harmful and sexist, namely, FGM.

Additionally, it is worth noting that most of the insurance options in the U.S. do not support the termination of pregnancy. While Medicare coverage could be used to subsidize abortion in the instances when a woman’s life is in danger due to pregnancy (Upadhyay et al. 2). In turn, in the rest of the scenarios, medical termination of pregnancy is never supported financially, which places women at additional risk due to the subsequent rise in the use of home abortion remedies, which can potentially lead to a fatal outcome. Therefore, the current legal system has been used actively to minimize women’s rights to control their own bodies and, instead, has granted the state the right to do so.

Unfortunately, presently, female reproductive rights are in significant danger due to the reinforcement of stereotypes concerning the subject matter, as well as the encroachment on women’s rights from political sides. Specifically, as emphasized above, women’s rights have recently been attacked by the decision of the U.S. government to abolish abortion opportunities in several states (Prather et al. 251). Moreover, the fact that women living in the U.S. still lack access to birth control despite the recent regulatory provisions needs to be mentioned as one of the foundational problems with the current standards for female reproductive rights.

Proof of Case

In addition to the current situation with abortion rights and opportunities for controlling their pregnancy, sex education in the U.S. remains an optional subject, which is why a range of girls and young women do not have the opportunity to access vital information. Due to the prejudices that their families have against sex education, or the shame that girls experience when talking about the subject matter in the academic setting, a significant portion of female students does not receive the necessary sex education (Keller 9). As a result, young women and girls open themselves to a plethora of threats to their reproductive health, which calls for the provision of sex education for all girls and young women.

Additionally, it is worth bringing up that FGM, which is still practiced in a range of countries and to which a substantial number of women are subjected, remains a major threat to the rights of women and girls belonging to specific cultures and residing in the U.S. Despite the presence of laws that, with some legal nuances, generally prohibit taking young women and girls to other states for performing FGM, as well as practicing it within the U.S., the total number of women suffering from FGM in the U.S. has risen stupendously since the 1990s (“FGM in the US”). Moreover, the existing rates of FGM performed on women residing in the U.S. has outnumbered the past projections by a very large margin: “the number is estimated to be 513,000, more than three times higher than an earlier estimate based on 1990 data” (“FGM in the US”). Thus, even though any FGM procedure has been declared unconstitutional by the 2021 law issued in the U.S., the proponents of the practice still find a way of overriding the regulation and subjecting girls and young women to unspeakable suffering of the cutting.

Furthermore, one must mention that, despite being acknowledged as legal in a tiny number of states, abortion remains largely illegal in most of them. Furthermore, even in the states where abortions are seen as a legal procedure, the requirements set for the legal termination of pregnancy, particularly, the price issue, may not align with what women from underserviced areas may afford (Prather et al. 251). Therefore, the problem with the lack of control that women in the U.S. have over their reproductive system remains an issue to be resolved and a serious premise for the promotion of inequality between men and women.

However, based on the idea of equality that the U.S. Constituting promotes, as well as the very notion of personal freedom, particularly, the freedom to have control over one’s body as an indispensable human right, female reproductive rights must be given to women fully. For instance, abortions must become a service available to and affordable for any woman as an essential part of her ability to choose the life that she believes to be right for herself. Any scenario that suggests otherwise implies that the reproductive freedom of women and, therefore, control over their bodies, does not belong to them but, instead, is the property of the state, or, to be more accurate, the state legislative body. In other words, women are subjugated and exploited as las in case their reproductive function is out of their control (Fine et al. 70). As Fine et al. put it.

Recent normative developments that call on states to decriminalize abortion and guarantee access to safe abortion care are increasingly recognizing that laws denying women the ability to determine whether to carry a pregnancy to term undermine their reproductive autonomy and agency, limit their opportunities, and deny them the ability to participate as equal members of society. (Fine et al. 70)

For this reason, birth control options and the right to have an abortion must be seen as vital parts of women’s ability to control their own bodies. The ability to make decisions concerning carrying the fetus until its further birth or terminating the pregnancy must remain an open choice for all women in any scenario. Any other solution that suggests a different course of action infringes upon the reproductive rights of women by subjugating them to the need to face changes to their body that they have not approved. Therefore, abortion must be deemed as a constitutional right of any American woman.

For a similar reason, FGM must be not only outlawed but also actively prevented in the U.S. to ensure that girls and young women are not taken to other states in order to have the inhumane procedure performed on them. Due to the right to have autonomy over her body, a woman must also retain the right not to be subjected to inhumane practices that imply mutilation of healthy body parts and induce severe aggravating conditions for her health (Abdulcadir 380). Apart from being an exact representation of physical torture, for which FGM must be banned alone, FGM also has ample negative health outcomes, primarily due to the narrowing of the vaginal opening and the resulting challenges during menstruation, urination, and other natural processes occurring in a woman’s body (“FGM in the US”). Furthermore, due to the inflammation that typically occurs after FGM is performed, the development of severe life-threatening conditions is also a common occurrence (Abdulcadir et al. 379). Specifically, Abdulcadir et al. state that, apart from dyspareunia, or extremely painful sexual intercourse, FGM leads to “post-traumatic neuromas of the clitoris, vulvar or clitoral cysts, abscesses, keloids, or scarring” (379).

Likewise, the issue of sex education must be addressed as an indispensable right of women. Namely, the ability to learn about her own body in order to make informed decisions and retain freedom over her reproductive system must be the right of every woman in the U.S. In turn, research shows that, with the promotion of proper sex education based on facts instead of religious doctrine or stereotypes, young people are more likely to develop healthy personal life and overall health awareness: “Outcomes include appreciation of sexual diversity, dating and intimate partner violence prevention, development of healthy relationships, prevention of child sex abuse, improved social/emotional learning, and increased media literacy” (Goldfarb and Lieberman 13). Therefore, the issue of female reproductive rights and the role of education in their promotion must be revisited.

Finally, other instances of major infringements upon women’s rights, such as child marriage, must be abolished completely and persecuted accordingly, with major penalties and punishments, namely, serve sentencing standards for those that attempt at infringing upon the rights of women and girls. The rigidity of the law and the enhancement of control over its breach along with the emphasis on providing women with reproductive freedom are bound to become the major steps in addressing the problem of women’s rights in today’s American society.

Opposing Viewpoint

To approach the issue from an unbiased perspective and the principles of democracy, considering the opposing viewpoints should be seen as a necessity. Currently, the issue of faith appears to be the main opposition to the further promotion of women’s reproductive rights. Namely, the Christian Church stands firmly on the issue of abortion specifically, pointing to the fact that the specified procedure is classified as a cardinal sin in the Christian philosophy, as Nina Stanescu, who has a Doctor Degree in Sociology, claims (670). Likewise, FGM and the related procedures are supported as cultural practices and, therefore, are usually seen as the inevitable outcome of accepting other cultures, according to Xiaolu Ni, who is a law school Ph.D. candidate (214).

Additionally, one must mention the unfortunate fact that most of the existing birth control options imply severe health outcomes as well. Specifically, the use of hormonal contraceptives may affect the menstrual cycle, causing a woman to experience disruptions and delays in menstruation. Furthermore, other hormone-related health issues may surface, changing the performance of the endocrine system to an extent, according to Ajayi et al., Ajayi is an associate research scientist (2). Therefore, the objections against the proposed change are not fully unjustified. A similar claim could be made concerning the birth control issue, whereas arguments regarding sex education typically revolve around the age that should be considered appropriate for the specified information.


Nonetheless, the significance of providing women with the right to have control over their bodies must override the religious doctrine and the need for cultural acceptance. The latter should be seen as the inadmissible abuse of cultural and moral relativism (Hoggart 6). In other words, the health and safety of women should be prioritized as a critical issue.

Moreover, the opposing argument regarding the negative effects of birth control appears to be entirely unsupported when considering the statistics of effective family plans involving birth control as opposed to those that reject the specified measure (World Health Organization, 2021). Namely, according to the available data, the rate of successful birth control exceeds one of the non-medical family plans by 45 %, which is an impressive difference (World Health Organization, 2021). Therefore, the ideas that strive to refute the importance of reproductive control for women do not have any substance to use as a basis.

Furthermore, while the use of birth control tools may affect women’s health adversely when consumed without prescription, the process becomes significantly safer once a healthcare expert is involved and appropriate consultations are provided (Ajayi et al. 5). Thus, instead of banning the specified option, healthcare authorities must provide consultation options for women in need of appropriate support and assistance.

Finally, when considering FGM as a cultural practice, one must mention that it is inherently inhumane and, therefore, cannot be justified by any cultural traditions. In fact, a range of cultural practices and perceptions that have been seen as inalienable elements of a specific tradition and a particular ethnic group has been questioned for their reasonability. Therefore, appealing to tradition as the reason for FGM does not hold any substance since the very practice is rooted in an inherently despicable idea of women being less of a human than men and, therefore, not worthy of being treated as human beings. Thus, it is crucial not only to promote the abandonment of the practice of FGM but also to establish the regulations that promote its persecution, as well as introduce legal responsibility for performing FGM on girls and young women.


Although noticeable progress has been made in advancing women’s reproductive rights, they are still under a threat due to the failure to recognize the importance of women’s agency over their reproductive system and the ability to make informed decisions based on their specific needs. Namely, the issues such as FGM bans on abortion, and inaccessibility of birth control options remain some of the most egregious examples of how women’s bodies are still controlled by men. Thus, the current issue with reproductive rights must be viewed as a sex-based discrimination issue and treated as such. Specifically, policies that recognize women’s bodily autonomy must be written into the current law, thus, providing the basis for the development of equality for men and women.

Specifically, it is vital to provide women with the right to control their lives and, particularly decide whether they are willing to terminate the pregnancy or proceed to give birth. Furthermore, the phenomenon of FMG must be outlawed completely, with reinforced legal repercussions for those that will try to bypass the law, specifically, by trying to travel to other states where FGM is legally allowed and typically performed. Furthermore, standards for allowing access to abortion and birth control options, as well as sexual education, must be introduced into the existing legal system so that women’s rights could be protected by law. By offering girls and young women education about their reproductive rights while also creating legal standards to uphold them, and introducing the target population to a variety of decision-making options, one will be able to produce a powerful change. Thus, the threat of women being exploited and abused will be minimized.

Works Cited

Abdulcadir, Jasmine, Emily Manin, and Daniela Huber. “Clitoral pain and dyspareunia after female genital mutilation/cutting: A case report.” International Journal of Clinical Medicine, vol. 10, no. 07. 2019, pp. 379-385.

Ajayi, Anthony Idowu, Oladele Vincent Adeniyi, and Wilson Akpan. “Use of Traditional and Modern Contraceptives among Childbearing Women: Findings from a Mixed Methods Study in two Southwestern Nigerian States.” BMC Public Health, vol. 18, no. 1, 2018, pp. 1-9.

FGM in the US. (2021).

Fine, Johanna B., Katherine Mayall, and Lilian Sepúlveda. “The role of international human rights norms in the liberalization of abortion laws globally.” Health and Human Rights, vol. 19, no.1, 2017, pp. 69-80.

Goldfarb, Eva S., and Lisa D. Lieberman. “Three Decades of Research: The Case for Comprehensive Sex Education.” Journal of Adolescent Health, vol. 68, no. 1, 2020, pp. 13-27.

Hoggart, Lesley. “Moral Dilemmas and Abortion Decision-Making: Lessons Learnt from Abortion Research in England and Wales.” Global Public Health, vol. 14, no. 1, 2019, pp. 1-8.

Keller, L. “Adolescents Deserve Better: What the Biden-Harris Administration and Congress Can Do to Bolster Young People’s Sexual and Reproductive Health.” Guttmacher Policy Review, vol. 24, 2021, pp. 8-13.

Ott, Mary A., et al. “Clinician Perspectives on Ethics and COVID‐19: Minding the Gap in Sexual and Reproductive Health.” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, vol. 52, no. 3, 2020, pp. 145-149.

Prather, Cynthia, et al. “Racism, African American Women, and Their Sexual and Reproductive Health: A Review of Historical and Contemporary Evidence and Implications for Health Equity.” Health Equity, vol. 2, no. 1, 2018, pp. 249-259.

Stanescu, Nina. “Family – A Procreative Institution and the Christian Sociopsychological and Religious Perception of Abortion Traumas.” Technium Social Sciences Journal, vol. 14, 2020, p. 670.

Upadhyay, Ushma D., et al. “State Abortion Policies and Medicaid Coverage of Abortion Are Associated with Pregnancy Outcomes among Individuals Seeking Abortion Recruited Using Google Ads: A National Cohort Study.” Social Science & Medicine, vol. 274, 2021, pp. 1-5.

Wallace, Maeve Ellen, Melissa Goldin Evans, and Katherine Theall. “The Status of Women’s Reproductive Rights and Adverse Birth Outcomes.” Women’s Health Issues, vol. 27, no. 2, 2017, pp. 121-128.

World Health Organization. (2021). Family planning/contraception methods

Ni, X. (2017). Review on FGM: A debate on cultural diversity and human rights violation. In 3rd International Symposium on Social Science (ISSS 2017) (pp. 213-215). Atlantis Press.

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