Rights to Reproductive Health Services

What are the Rights to Reproductive and Sexual Health?

These are your human rights that you can use to manage your sexual and reproductive health. Local laws may protect these rights.

Human rights and health advocates have identified three types of reproductive rights. These rights include:

  • Decide if or when you will have children and with whom.
  • Access to information and services on sexual and reproductive health
  • Take reproductive and sexual decisions without discrimination or inequality

Many people around the world have restricted reproductive and sexual rights, particularly girls, women, and those who live in poverty. Many people do not have access to sex education, contraception, or pregnancy care.

It is often a result of the beliefs and values that a particular community has about sex. Some societies place greater pressure on women to get pregnant.

Restricting reproductive rights has long-term consequences — both physically and socially. Women and girls who lack options and proper health care are more likely than others to die during pregnancy or childbirth. The leading cause of maternal death among girls and women aged 15-19 is worldwide. This is often due to their bodies not being mature enough to bear a child.

You may be denied educational and employment opportunities if you cannot decide when to have sex, whether to get pregnant, or whether to have children.

Many girls are considered adults by their community when they reach puberty. Some girls may marry, get pregnant, and drop out of college to take care of their children. This cycle limits the economic and career prospects of a girl, making her vulnerable to poverty.

What are your rights to reproductive and sexual health services?

The Affordable Care Act, signed into law by President Obama in 2010, made health care more affordable to more Americans. The ACA expanded Medicaid coverage to certain low-income people, but some states did not agree.

Some services are available only through your employer’s health insurance plan or the Health Insurance Market, which is managed by the state or federal government.


Since the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in June 2022, there has been much discussion about this issue. This ruling leaves the regulation of abortion to each state.

Over half of the states will restrict or even ban abortions. In some states, abortion is illegal; in others, it is allowed under certain circumstances, and in still others, it is protected.

Your health insurance plan may cover abortion. It is not very easy.

It depends mainly on where you live and your insurer.

Medicaid will only cover abortions in the case of rape, incest, or danger to your life. Medicaid is funded by both federal and state money. States can decide to use Medicaid funds for abortions outside of these situations. Some states cover abortions, and others do not.

You may also be able to get health insurance through the ACA if you live in a state that requires it. Some states require that it covers elective abortions as long as federal funds are not used. ACA plans and the level of coverage for abortions they provide vary from one state to another. Some states do not allow ACA plans or private insurance to cover abortions, no matter what the circumstances.

Your coverage for abortion will depend on a number of factors, including where you live, the details of your plan, and whether or not your employer is buying insurance directly from you. Learn about your coverage by checking your company rules and your project.

Some large employers offer to cover expenses for employees who must cross state borders for an abortion. It is not clear how much risk these companies are taking by doing this.

Some states still allow abortions. You can get info on your state’s laws, abortion-related legal help, and resources that may help you pay for an abortion at websites like www.abortionfinder.org.

Birth Control

When you visit an in-network doctor, your Marketplace health plan will not charge for birth control or other related healthcare services. The ACA covers birth control that is approved by the FDA, including:

  • Barrier birth control
  • Hormonal control
  • Emergency contraception
  • A tubal ligation is a form of sterilization or “tying your tubes.”

Pregnancy, breastfeeding

You are entitled to coverage if you have recently given birth or if you are expecting. The Marketplace and Medicaid cover your health care during pregnancy and childbirth. All qualified health plans are required to protect newborns and those who have recently given birth.

There is help for free if you are breastfeeding your child. The majority of health insurance plans must cover breastfeeding support and counseling as well as the cost of a new or rental breast pump. Your doctor may have to approve your request.

Other Sexual Health Services

The ACA also covers sexual health services.

  • HIV Screening for Teenagers and Adults Aged 15 to 65
  • PrEP medication for high-risk HIV-negative adults
  • HPV vaccine
  • STI counseling for high-risk adults
  • Syphilis Screening for High-Risk Adults

You can select any primary care provider in the network. Referrals from primary care doctors are not required to see an OB/GYN.

Obstacles to Birth Control Services

There are reports that insurers deny women coverage for birth control as part of the ACA. Others expect women to show that other methods of birth control failed before they paid for their preferred method. They may also not cover birth-control techniques with the same ingredients but a different delivery method, like the pill and birth control patch. In a study of 20 insurers in five states, only 12 paid for contraceptive rings, and 10 paid for all FDA-approved IUDs.

Some pharmacists refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control or provide emergency birth control because of their religious or non-religious beliefs. This is their right in some states. You will have to go to another pharmacy to purchase your birth control if this happens.


Your doctor may have barriers to birth control. Contrary to what some doctors may claim, you do not need to undergo a Pelvic Exam before getting a prescription for birth control.

You may need to visit your doctor twice for an implant, such as an IUD. The first time is for a consultation. The second time will be for the placement of the device. All of this can be done in one appointment.

Remember that health insurance plans are not required to cover vasectomies. Some employers, like religious organizations, do not have to include birth control coverage in their projects. Ask your employer what services are covered by their plan.


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