Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights


Mission, Values and Guiding Principles


The Guttmacher Institute advances sexual and reproductive health and rights through an interrelated program of research, policy analysis and public education designed to generate new ideas, encourage enlightened public debate and promote sound policy and program development. The Institute’s overarching goal is to ensure the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health for all people worldwide.


The Institute’s program is guided by six overarching institutional values:

  • attention to methodological rigor and accuracy as fundamental to the integrity and credibility of the Institute’s research;
  • commitment to publishing and disseminating results of the Institute’s research, regardless of the political or programmatic ramifications;
  • anticipation and study of emerging issues to equip the Institute to inform public debate as such issues gain prominence;
  • balance between new and ongoing priorities to ensure that the Institute is both on the cutting edge of scholarly and political thought and fully committed to core issues of continued importance;
  • openness to using outside experts’ perspectives to enrich the Institute’s program and enhance its understanding of the issues; and
  • collaboration with others to expand the reach and sustainability of the Institute’s efforts.

Guiding Principles

A vision for the future. The Institute envisions a world in which all women and men have the ability to exercise their rights and responsibilities regarding sexual behavior, reproduction and family formation, freely and with dignity. Essential to this vision are societal respect for and protection of personal decision making with regard to the number and timing of pregnancies and births, as well as public- and private-sector policies that support individuals and couples in their efforts to become responsible and supportive parents, maintain stable family structures and balance parenting with other roles. Equally vital to the Institute’s vision are the eradication of gender inequality worldwide and the attainment of equal status, rights and responsibilities for women.

A comprehensive view of sexual and reproductive health. The Institute regards sexual and reproductive health as encompassing a wide range of people’s needs from adolescence onward. The Institute works to protect, expand and equalize universal access to information, services and rights that will enable women and men to

  • avoid unplanned pregnancies;
  • prevent and treat STIs, including HIV;
  • exercise the right to choose safe, legal abortion;
  • achieve healthy pregnancies and births; and
  • have healthy, responsible and satisfying sexual relationships.

Priority attention to those with greatest need. The Institute promotes the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all people, but gives priority attention to the needs, concerns and rights of those whose access to information, services or other societal benefits may be impeded by their youth, marital status, geography or income, or because of disadvantage or discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.

A responsibility to the United States and the world. The Institute is acutely aware of the pressing need to improve the quality of policies and programs concerning sexual and reproductive health and rights in the United States, and regards achieving this goal as one of its primary responsibilities. Understanding that the political, cultural and economic influence of the United States can have considerable impact on sexual and reproductive health throughout the world, the Institute places a similarly high priority on monitoring the effects of U.S. policy on women and men in other countries and on advocating for enlightened policies.

The Institute also recognizes a responsibility to document, and address through policy advocacy, the disparities in sexual and reproductive health and rights between and within countries across the globe, and to support the efforts of colleagues advocating for enlightened policies in their own countries and internationally.

Finally, the Institute is mindful that across and within countries, certain commonalities underlie the circumstances in which sexuality is expressed, families or unions are formed, and children are conceived and born. Guided by this awareness of these transnational patterns, the Institute seeks to undertake thematic cross-country and country-specific work that will have the greatest relevance globally.