What Are Reproductive Rights?

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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 29 February 2020
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Reproductive rights include the ability to make decisions about contraception, pregnancy, abortion, and access to health care that makes decisions possible. These rights are considered basic human rights in some areas, meaning a person should be given choices about when to have children or delay reproducing. Various organizations strive to protect reproductive rights by becoming active in lobbying to influence political decisions. The topic spurs controversy in some areas based on religious beliefs.

Contraception as a reproductive right allows men and women to control fertility and prevent unwanted pregnancy. Proponents of contraception believe every person should have access to contraception in his or her community, without cost if he or she cannot afford it. Information about different contraception methods, and their effectiveness and safety, represents a movement to promote international reproductive rights.

Reproductive rights include access to health care for all women who become pregnant. Such rights include people living in poor areas who lack health insurance and funds to pay for prenatal care. These goals center on reducing mortality rates from complications of pregnancy that might lead to maternal death, the birth of a deformed child, and risks linked to unsafe abortion.


The right to legal and safe abortion represents a key element in reproductive rights efforts around the globe. It is based on the belief that women possess a fundamental right to decide when to bear children and to terminate a pregnancy if they determine it is in their best interest. Women’s reproductive rights organizations work to make abortion legal, readily available to all, and available without cost to those who cannot afford the procedure.

Reproductive rights for men are typically limited to birth control options to prevent pregnancy. The men’s movement for reproductive rights raises issues about the male role in family planning and fatherhood. Women generally do not need consent from a male partner when they choose to terminate a pregnancy. Men also generally lack legal standing when a woman decides to carry a child and give birth, but are legally obligated to support their offspring to adulthood.

The men’s rights movement centers on the creation of additional contraception choices for men. In some areas, men also seek legal authority to participate in abortion and pregnancy decisions made by their partners. Men’s reproductive health efforts include information about sexual and reproductive health in some regions.


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