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Reproductive Rights for Women

A comprehensive guide on the history of women's reproductive health rights

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Summer Session Hours for QVCC Library

  • Monday. 9am-4pm

  • Tuesday. 9am-4pm 

  • Wednesday. 9am-4pm

  • Thursday.  9am-4pm

  • Friday. 9am-2pm

Summer Holiday Closings for QVCC Library

  • May 29, 2023 - CLOSED 
  • June 19, 2023 - CLOSED
  • July 4, 2023 - CLOSED  

Women's Reproductive Rights

Reproductive rights are the rights of women, and all birthing people, to control their reproduction. Control can include knowledge about their bodies and sexual activities, control over when and how to have sexual relations and use of birth control if desired, control over when and whether to be pregnant, and control over accessing high-quality and affordable healthcare and after-birth care.

Changes and challenges to reproductive rights dominated 2022 news but lacked context. Since the 1950s, reproductive rights have expanded to include comprehensive sex education, birth control access, health access, including reproductive health and hospital-based pregnancy, and safe and legal abortions. Expanded access has helped increased health and other outcomes for women. Challenges to these rights include:

  • The movement toward abstinence-based sex education
  • Limits on birth control access
  • Maternal healthcare deserts and bans on abortions since the 1990s

This library guide offers a curated window into these evolving windows with short introductions and links to video, audio, article, and book resources. Navigate the sections below:  

History of Reproductive Health

Historically Marginalized Women & Reproduction

Abortion & The Supreme Court

Advances and Challenges

Introduction to Reproductive Rights Webinar

Additional Note on Use of Gender Terminology

This guide uses gendered terms like women and women’s health. This language can be exclusive to people who are transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC). Many trans men and trans masculine people assigned female at birth require reproductive healthcare for women but feel excluded and underserved by “women’s healthcare” providers and facilities since female gendered language (women’s, mother) may signal exclusion to TGNC people.

TGNC people experience significant healthcare bias across many services and may avoid healthcare services for fear of intolerant providers, including obstetricians and gynecologists. There’s a movement toward more gender-inclusive language (e.g., people who menstruate over women). The balance between acknowledging the needs and communities of women and TCGN people is ongoing. We use gendered language to connect to the women’s movement and acknowledge the limitations of that language and view and hope to improve with time.