When it comes to your reproductive rights, there are a lot of elements to consider. Whether you’re trying to conceive, trying to prevent conception, or just taking care of your reproductive health, your rights can vary drastically based on which state you live in. Therefore, it’s important to verify the laws specific to your jurisdiction and how they could impact you.
When you’re having trouble conceiving, there are a few options available to you. Whether you choose to try sperm or egg donation, artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization (IVF), or surrogacy, you need to understand the rules and regulations that guide your choice.
When using a donor of some kind, or a surrogate, you should find out how the laws affect parentage. In some states, donors and surrogates can’t have access to parentage rights. In others, parental rights are assumed until specifically terminated. Not all states allow contracts between donors and parents or surrogates and parents, but in the ones that do, a properly written legal agreement can be essential for protecting your family.
Surrogacy contracts will usually go well beyond just parental rights and can stipulate healthcare requirements, financial compensation, and birthing plans. In many states, independent legal representation is mandatory when creating and signing a surrogacy contract.
Specific state laws will heavily impact your rights around pregnancy prevention as well. What’s more is that these laws are constantly changing through new court cases and legislative policies. You’ll need to be sure you’re following the most up-to-date laws in your state and on the federal level.
Adults and teens alike generally have the right to access contraception. But in some states, doctors can to refuse to prescribe medical birth control, and some allow pharmacists to refuse to fill these kinds of prescriptions. This goes for monthly birth control pills, contraceptive implants, and emergency contraceptives or “morning after” pills.
Many insurance companies will cover the costs of medical birth control, but some companies are allowed to refuse to do so under rules for religious freedom.
Teens don’t need parental permission to get contraception, however, many states are trying to outlaw minors’ ability to get birth control unless their parents consent.
All in all, abortions are legal in the U.S., though many states have or are trying to authorize tight restrictions on when and how someone can get an abortion. Common restrictions include how much a fetus has developed and when in the pregnancy timeline the abortion will take place.
Covering the cost of abortions will depend on state laws as well. Some states allow insurance companies to refuse coverage, or will either allow or bar public funding for abortions.
Some states require that a physician perform any abortion, and some further state that doctors can refuse to provide that service.
You’ll also need to know if your state requires mandatory counseling, waiting periods, or parental consent for minors.
You have rights, once again specific to your state’s laws, for voluntary sterilization methods. These include voluntary hysterectomies, tubal litigation (getting “tubes tied”), and vasectomies.
Many states restrict someone’s ability to have a voluntary hysterectomy for contraceptive purposes if they’re in a “reproductive age range,” often between the age of 18 to 35. Some individual providers may even require a person seeking hysterectomy or tubal litigation to get permission from their spouse before the procedure.
Likewise, doctors may be allowed to refuse to perform vasectomies, particularly if they think the patient is too young to “understand” the consequences of the procedure.
Some states give medical providers more discretion in choosing when and how to provide reproductive healthcare. The most common reasons that reproductive healthcare gets denied is if it’s a religiously-affiliated practice or hospital, if doctors think the specific type of medical care is dangerous or unnecessary, or refusal to treat transgender patients.
While some states or schools are allowed to refuse to provide education on specific reproductive health issues, there are an increasing number of additional resources people can access to learn more about their reproductive health.
If you have questions or concerns about your access to reproductive services or healthcare in your state, working with a local reproductive rights attorney could help you better understand your options and help you fight against obstacles that prevent you from getting the care you need.
Even the most common family law issue can be intensely stressful to you. A knowledgeable reproductive rights lawyer can guide you through the process. An attorney will coach you on how to proceed and give expert guidance on hearings, negotiating, trials, and enforcing court orders. Take the first step now and talk to an experienced local reproductive rights attorney.