Online Program

This begins at home: The impact of domestic laws on global gender equality

Monday, November 4, 2013

Katherine Record, JD, MPH, MA, Center for Health Law & Policy Innovation, Harvard Law School, Jamaica Plain, MA
Reproductive health is a keystone of global public health; women who control if and when she has a child earn higher wages and are more educated and healthier – as are their children. These are empirical facts, providing sound justification for the public health practice of increasing the availability of contraceptives and reproductive healthcare around the globe. The health and economic benefits of allowing women to control their own reproduction are so great that the New York Times columnist's novel, Half the Sky, has flown off the shelves and hit the screen, pleading with Americans to recognize the harm that results globally, when women anywhere are denied equal rights. Yet right here, we are turning back the clock on reproductive health. Forty years after the Supreme Court declared that our constitutional right to privacy encompasses a fundamental right to control one's reproductive capacity, a concerted effort to outlaw abortion is sweeping the nation. State legislatures are entertaining bills that directly target a woman's right to control her own body (e.g., eliminating abortion clinics, banning abortion after 6 weeks of gestation or for rape victims altogether, or even barring women from accessing contraceptives). Some of these bills have become laws. All will be challenged in court. How the courts weigh the constitutionality of these laws will affect not only the health, but also the income potential and education, of women for decades to come. As we think globally about women's health, we must act locally, lest others follow our lead.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Other professions or practice related to public health
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Formulate the constitutional right to control over one's reproductive capacity. Identify state laws that directly limit or bar access to reproductive healthcare. Formulate the connection between state medical licensing laws and women's access to reproductive healthcare. Discuss how domestic law (United States) drives law making in other nations via foreign aid, international treaties, and trade agreements.

Keyword(s): Abortion, Access

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an attorney with an MPH practicing both domestic and global public health law. My grant funded project areas include sexual and reproductive health under the Affordable Care Act (ACA); ACA implementation; HIV/AIDS prevention and access to treatment (global and domestic); mental health policy; gun control; and privacy law and hospital data sharing.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.