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Reproductive Rights

Reproductive rights are a collection of numerous topics relating to women’s rights to reproduce and sexual health. Typically, reproductive rights are a component of human rights. Unlike other human rights that receive immense attention and protection, reproductive rights are not as popular. The society has varying moral, religious, and political viewpoints regarding reproductive rights. People have conflicting viewpoints on topics like a woman’s right to her body, birth control, and family planning. Intense debate surrounds reproductive rights even as scientific development broadens the scope of reproductive rights. San Diego Divorce Attorney can help you understand the intricate topic of reproductive rights in California.

Reproductive Rights Under California Law

Reproductive rights in California are highlighted in state and federal laws, legal precedents, and court decisions. However, the field of reproductive health continues to stir intense debate and turmoil. Many groups and organizations protest and question a woman's ability to decide abortion and birth control. Given the intricate nature of reproductive rights in California, it might be hard to understand your rights. If you are seeking a legal action around your rights, an experienced attorney can help you navigate your way.

According to the World Health Organization, there is more to reproductive health than the absence of sexually-transmitted illnesses. In addition, reproductive health is not limited to the absence of sexual health issues and weaknesses. Reproductive health refers to a woman’s freedom and capability to have consensual, safe and satisfying sex. A woman should have the freedom to choose how often he or she should have sex. Reproductive rights allow women to decide when to procreate. 

The World Health Organization further states that women's reproductive rights allow them to choose and access safe, affordable, and effective fertility regulations. Women should enjoy the right to safe pregnancy and procreation. Reproductive rights enable families to prepare to raise a healthy child. By exercising their reproductive rights, women can advance in their education and careers without experiencing constant reproductive pressures.

Reproductive rights may vary from country to country due to varying political and cultural backgrounds. However, several universal rights are included under the collective term reproductive rights:

  • Access to safe and reliable reproductive healthcare
  • Access to education, which enables women to make free and informed choices regarding their reproductive health. Valuable education may include sensitization on reproduction, infections, and sexually transmitted illnesses.
  • A right to make decisions regarding family planning and procreation
  • A right to choose the ideal birth control method
  • A right to legal and safe abortion
  • Freedom from coerced or mandated contraception or sterilization
  • Protection and freedom from forced or coerced sexual practices like female genital mutilation

Reproductive rights play a major role in overall socio-economic wellbeing and improved health in women. Women thrive when they can make their own decisions and choices regarding their reproductive health. Giving women a chance to choose if and when to become parents leads to:

  • Stable, long-lasting, and satisfying relationships
  • Advanced work experiences
  • Improvement in career earnings

Reproductive Rights Issues in the United States

Federal law protects many reproductive rights in the United States. For instance, federal law protects the right to abortion and women's access to birth control options funded by the public. Publically funded birth control methods are particularly beneficial to low-income women. Certain sexual practices like genital mutilation and forced sterilization are not common in the U.S. The forced sexual practices are not prevalent in the United States, even if the law does not explicitly prohibit them. 

Most people in the U.S. understand reproductive rights as the ability to choose whether or when to procreate. There are numerous subsets to this definition of reproductive law. Women should enjoy their reproductive rights regardless of their age. Even if a woman has not attained the majority age of 18 years, she still has legal protection to make choices regarding her productive rights. However, this right may vary from state to state. In some states, a person below 18 years would not exercise her reproductive rights without parental involvement. Some local laws may restrict the reproductive rights of women under the age of 18 years.

Local laws regulate other subsets of reproductive health, including the provision of sex education in public schools. Local laws may also dictate topics that should be taught under sex education in public schools. Some local state laws limit sexual education training to abstinence. Abstinence trains both men and women to stay away from sex until they get married. Some local laws may advocate for broad and comprehensive sexual education in public schools, including contraception.

Despite federal laws regarding reproductive rights, U.S courts still have to decide on many reproductive rights issues. For instance, in 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that companies could fail to include birth control in their health insurance plans if the methods violate their religious beliefs.

The U.S. Constitution and Reproductive Rights

The U.S. Constitution protects many civil and human rights. However, the constitution does not have specific statutes and laws to protect the United States' reproductive rights. However, many rulings made by the Supreme Court portray reproductive rights as a fundamental right.

In its rulings, the Supreme Court has protected many aspects of reproductive rights. The court has protected reproductive rights revolving around abortion, contraception, family relations, procreation, and child-rearing. In a previous ruling by the Supreme Court on the case of Roe v. Wade, the court protected a woman’s rights to carry out abortion during the first months of pregnancy.

Reproductive Rights in California

Different states in the U.S have different laws regarding different reproductive rights. Some of the main reproductive issues in California revolve around access to contraception and birth control, sex education in schools, and abortion.

Abortion and California Law

Based on the U.S federal law, abortions are legal in California. State laws in California are less restrictive compared to abortion laws in other states. California abortion laws do not place extended waiting periods, extreme facility codes, and restrictive consent requirements.

Any medical procedure aimed at terminating a woman’s pregnancy qualifies as legal abortion under California law. The medical procedure should be of such a nature that it can’t lead to a living birth. According to the law, nurses, doctors, physicians' assistants, and non-physician medical practitioners can carry out the procedure. However, medical experts must have the necessary skills and expertise to perform a legal abortion. Medics can legally perform abortions in California in facilities that have approved the procedure.

If any other person other than the persons named above performs an abortion in California, abortion is illegal. Abortion is also illegal if it’s not in line with a medical facility or hospital’s procedures.

California law has strict abortion laws for people below 18 years. If a woman below 18 years intends to undergo an abortion, she should seek consent from her parents. A minor must obtain parental consent before getting an abortion as long as she is not separated from her legal parents or guardians.

Even though California law supports legal abortion, not all women can freely access legal abortion services. Of the 58 counties in California, 45% of them don’t have qualifying abortion providers. Therefore, if you live in a county, that does not have a qualified abortion provider, you’d have to travel to other counties to access abortion services.

California Law on Birth Control

The majority of health insurance programs in California provide coverage for the typical birth control types, like hormonal birth control. According to the Supreme Court ruling in 2014, employers can limit their health insurance coverage on birth control. If the birth control method goes against a company's religious beliefs, it can limit insurance coverage.

In a case where employers limit insurance coverage on birth control on religious grounds, women have to seek alternative ways of financing their birth control treatments. Women may choose to pay for birth control out of their pockets or seek a more affordable payment plan.

In 2016, California law gave women easy access to birth control without seeking a doctor's prescription. The law allowed pharmacists to prescribe birth control to women. However, it’s important to know that not all pharmacists offer birth control despite the passage of this law. For pharmacists to provide birth control, they have to abide by the set guidelines. 

The law does not obligate pharmacists to offer prescriptions for birth control. However, if a pharmacist decides to start prescribing contraceptives, he or she has to undergo training. For pharmacists to be licensed to prescribe contraceptives in California, they must undergo a one-hour online training. 

For women to benefit from birth control options offered by pharmacists, it's upon them to conduct their research to know the birth control method that suits them best. Some of the common self-administered birth control methods offered in pharmacies include the patch, depo shot, the ring, and birth control pills. The majority of women prefer birth control pills, among other methods.

California law aimed to facilitate access to birth control by allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control. However, despite the aim of the initiative to facilitate access to birth control, not every pharmacy in California offers birth control prescriptions.

Some women are still unaware that they could get contraceptives from a pharmacy without having to visit dentists first. Access to birth control becomes harder since women don’t know that they can skip the doctor’s visit and visit a pharmacy for contraceptives. 

Why are pharmacists slow to prescribe birth control? Before prescribing birth control, the law requires pharmacists to conduct a brief health check-up on the woman seeking birth control. Even if the law allows pharmacists to offer birth control services, it does not require them to do it. Pharmacists do not receive any payment for offering birth control services. From April 2019, Medi-Cal committed to reimburse the counseling fees charged on women by pharmacists for the counseling services. Women's rights advocates hope that more women will embrace the birth control services offered in pharmacies.

Sex Education in California Public Schools

According to the California Healthy Youth Act (2015), public schools in California must offer sex education to children in grades 7-12. The state defines sexual health education as a comprehensive and all-inclusive education on sexuality and human development. While administering sex education, schools have to comply with this definition. Some of the topics covered under sexual education in public schools include:

  • Family planning
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Sexual harassment
  • Sexual assault

Based on the state's definition of sex education, schools must be comprehensive while offering sex education. Schools should not limit sex education to abstaining from sex until marriage. Schools may teach various methods of birth control for men and women. While providing sex education, schools also cover topics like prevention of HIV and AIDS.  Training on HIV and AIDS may include the nature of the illness, lowering the risk of contracting HIV, the transmission of HIV, and other relevant issues. 

In the past, public schools in California were not obligated to teach sex education. However, if a school chose to teach sex education, it had to ensure that education is comprehensive. By 2010, most schools in California were offering sex education, but almost half of the schools were not teaching the contraception methods approved by the FDA. Only a small percentage of the schools in California were teaching their students about emergency contraception. 

When the California Healthy Youth Act became operational, it ensured that students from across the state were receiving similar sex education. Sex education aims to enhance sexual literacy and reduce the high rates of pregnancy in teenagers. Sex education also aims at reducing sexually transmitted illnesses like chlamydia and gonorrhea. 

However, despite the passage of the new law on sex education, there’s still a gap. California State does not have a way of ensuring that schools comply with all the requirements of sex education. Therefore, the uneven approach to sex education for students in California has persisted. 

Pregnancy and Your Options

If a woman suspects that she’s pregnant, she has a right to a confidential pregnancy test. What options do you have if you’re pregnant? You may choose to remain pregnant and become a parent. You may also place the baby for adoption or choose to terminate the pregnancy through legal abortion.

If you choose to sustain the pregnancy and become a parent, you have a legal right to continue attending school while pregnant, and even after your child's birth. Schools should not treat you differently or deny you a chance to study because you’re pregnant or a parent. While pregnant, you have a right to remain in school and participate in activities, including physical activities. Some schools in California have special programs for teen parents. However, a minor should not have to change schools because she’s pregnant or parenting.

While pregnant, you have a right to attend medical appointments even during school hours. Without your permission, your school has no right to bring public attention to your pregnancy.

If you are expecting a child, but you don’t want to be a parent, the law allows you to give up your legal rights as a parent. By giving up your baby for adoption, you’ll have no responsibilities towards the baby. 

If you decide to get an abortion, you can get a legal abortion until approximately six months into the pregnancy. The law protects your privacy, and you won’t need another person's consent to get an abortion. However, for an abortion to be legal in California, it must be conducted by a qualified medical expert. 

Reproductive Rights for Men

When most people hear about reproductive rights, their attention shifts to women. Do men have reproductive rights as well? Although reproductive rights are mainly a women’s issue, some organizations focus on reproductive rights for men.  Some of the key topics covered under reproductive rights for men include:

  • False paternity
  • Adoption
  • Rights over frozen embryos
  • Abortion decisions

According to the 14th Amendment's clause on Equal Protection, men are obligated to offer their children financial support. The Supreme Court reinforced this fact by establishing that men do not have a right to deny their unwanted children's financial obligations.

Inequalities exist regarding men’s responsibilities regarding reproductive rights. The federal law allows legal abortions for women. Based on this factor, some men’s activist organizations state that men should have a right regarding certain decisions. The decisions include whether and when their partner should be pregnant. Activists also argue that men should have control regarding their partners’ birth control. 

When it comes to child support or divorce, men’s activist groups outline that unfair double standards exist. Men do not have equal rights in issues relating to divorce and child custody. Men don’t have control regarding whether and when their women should have children. Activists argue that more women than men initiate divorce in California and other "no-fault" states because divorce issues tend to favor women. 

Find a San Diego Divorce Attorney Near Me

Intense controversy and debate surround reproductive rights in California, and other states in the U.S. Most people have a hard time understanding their reproductive rights due to the complex nature of the subject.  If you want to explore your reproductive rights, San Diego Divorce Attorney can guide you.  Contact us at 858-529-5150 and speak to one of our attorneys. 



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