Today, nearly 80 advocacy and rights organizations debuted The Blueprint for Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice (The Blueprint), a shared policy agenda to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights within the US and worldwide. Rooted in the needs and experience of people around the world, the Blueprint provides a roadmap for future US administrations to advance reproductive health and rights through a combination of executive and congressional actions.
The International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) is proud to be a member of the Blueprint coalition and joins in the critical call on policymakers to fulfill the sexual and reproductive health needs of all people. Importantly, the Blueprint recognizes every person’s right to abortion—including self-managed abortion. Together with our partners, IWHC will work to advance policies that remove barriers, stigma, and discrimination and respect pregnant people’s undeniable right to safe, legal, and accessible abortion services.
Crucially, the Blueprint challenges policymakers to remove racist and outdated federal provisions that rob people of abortion access. The Helms and Hyde amendments, for example, deny the use of federal funds to cover abortion globally and domestically, respectively. These policies limit people in the Global South and low-income communities in the United States from obtaining safe and legal abortion services. Eliminating provisions such as the Helms and Hyde amendments would mean that pregnant people both globally and in the US will no longer have to experience stigmatizing and burdensome restrictions due to US policies.
The Trump administration has taken unprecedented steps to roll back sexual and reproductive health and rights at home and abroad. The attacks started in the administration’s first week in office with the reinstatement and expansion of the deadly Global Gag Rule. Since then, they have only escalated as the president has defunded the United Nations Population Fund, installed ideologues into key posts responsible for health care access, and sought to undermine global agreements on women’s rights. Domestically, President Trump has taken administrative action to curtail access to abortion, contraception, and other reproductive health care. The effects of these devastating actions are costing women and marginalized communities their lives. Further, by robbing people of their bodily autonomy, the US is risking countless lives and contributing to increased rates of unwanted pregnancies and maternal mortality and morbidity—all contrary to the US government’s international development investments and domestic responsibilities.
The Blueprint goes beyond reversing the horrific policies of the current administration and lays out a proactive action agenda. It provides a number of asks related to abortion access, and specifically calls on Congress to pass pro-choice legislation such as the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights Act, which would permanently end the Global Gag Rule.
Of equal importance is the Blueprint’s call to decriminalize self-managed abortion. In a time where US states and countries worldwide seek to roll back decades of progress on women’s rights and criminalize abortion, access to self-managed abortion has never been more important. The reality is there are safe methods for ending a pregnancy that we did not have 40 years ago. Indeed, self-managed abortion with pills is safe and effective when the pills are accessible, people have access to information and, if needed, quality follow-up medical care. There are many reasons why someone may want to self-manage their abortion. For some, it’s less expensive than seeing a medical provider, for others it’s more intimate and private. Regardless of the reason, the Blueprint makes it clear that pregnant people must have unrestricted access to abortion pills and be free from fear of arrest or prosecution.
The United States has both an opportunity and an obligation to advance sexual and reproductive health, including the expansion of abortion access. The Blueprint provides the playbook to make this vision a reality, but it is not the end of the road. Policymakers that seek to implement the Blueprint must continue to work with and listen to members of civil society, particularly from marginalized groups, to identify health priorities and beneficial policies in the years ahead.
At IWHC, we will continue to engage with the Blueprint process and use our 35 years of knowledge advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights worldwide to inform policies that further sexual and reproductive rights and increase health care access worldwide.