Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Restrictiveness of state abortion policies is linked to women’s contraceptive behavior

PSRH logo In the past decade, there have been substantial increases in the proportion of women of reproductive age living in states with highly restrictive abortion policies. Against that backdrop, a new study in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health sought to understand how women’s contraceptive behavior is related to restrictions on abortion access in the state where they live...more

Call for papers: The December 2016 issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health will contain a special section devoted to abortion in the United States and other developed countries. We welcome submissions on topics such as the incidence of abortion, women’s experiences seeking and obtaining the procedure, service provision and policy-related issues. Deadline for submission is November 30, 2015.

Our author guidelines and instructions for submitting a manuscript may be found here.


Health Affairs Blog: How Texas lawmakers continue to undermine women’s health

In 2013, one in five Texans had no health insurance of any kind, including 2.1 million adult women. Texas also consistently has lackluster health indicators—particularly with regard to sexual and reproductive health care. Yet, at seemingly every turn, state lawmakers continue to implement neglectful—or even hostile—policies, argues Guttmacher expert Kinsey Hasstedt in a new article published on the Health Affairs Blog...more


New federal guidance aims to improve contraceptive coverage

The Obama administration has issued expanded guidance for private health plans about how to implement the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to cover preventive care services—including the full range of contraceptive methods—without any out-of-pocket costs. Recent studies have shown that many insurance plans are not fully complying with the ACA. The guidance clarifies, among other key items, that coverage encompasses every distinct contraceptive method used by women...more


The HEAL for Immigrant Women and Families Act would remove harmful barriers to health coverage

Legislation reintroduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives would significantly advance immigrants’ eligibility for health insurance coverage and access to health care—including sexual, reproductive and maternal health services. Currently, a patchwork of policies put in place over the past two decades has put affordable health coverage and care out of reach for many immigrants in the United States...more


School-based health centers must do more to address teen pregnancy

School-based health centers (SBHCs) are critical access points to health care for adolescents, especially those who are at high risk of unintended pregnancy and STIs. That is why policymakers and child health advocates must work to overcome barriers that keep many SBHCs from meeting students’ sexual and reproductive health needs. Case studies show how a number of centers have done so successfully...more


In Senegal, first-ever national study shows thousands of women injured by unsafe abortion each year

In Senegal, where abortion is highly restricted, clandestine abortions are common. According to the country’s first-ever national study of abortion, by Gilda Sedgh, of the Guttmacher Institute, et al., some 51,500 induced abortions were performed in 2012 and more than half resulted in complications. However, 42% of women who experienced complications did not receive needed care...more (français).

51,500 Senegalese women have an abortion each year


Transparency about abortion coverage still lacking, but achievable

Individuals purchasing coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces may have difficulty finding consistent, clear information on whether a plan includes or excludes abortion coverage. However, transparency about abortion coverage is both necessary and achievable. Our new analysis offers recommendations on how to achieve this goal, while also highlighting the need to make abortion coverage available to all U.S. women...more

25 states ban abortion coverage (with some exceptions) in private plance through marketplaces


Stanley Henshaw receives lifetime achievement award

Former Guttmacher senior researcher Stanley Henshaw was recognized with a lifetime achievement award by the Society of Family Planning. Dr. Henshaw, a leading expert on abortion, teen pregnancy and family planning, retired in 2013 after 34 years with the Guttmacher Institute. You can learn more about his prestigious career here…more.


Just the numbers: The impact of U.S. international family planning assistance

Thousands of women in poor countries would die from pregnancy-related complications if funding for U.S. international family planning and reproductive health assistance were significantly cut. Our fact sheet details the many benefits of the current U.S. investment as well as the negative impact of every $10 million decrease in the program...more


Fertility desires and modern contraceptive use are changing among indigenous women in Ecuador

International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health The indigenous people of the Ecuadorian Amazon, among the last cultures in the world to practice almost exclusively natural fertility, appear to be moving toward lower birthrates, according to a new study from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, published in International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. Between 2001 and 2012, the total fertility rate among indigenous women in the area decreased from 7.9 to 7.0 births per woman. The percentage of indigenous women who desired another child fell from 48% to 40%...more


State legislative attacks seek to curtail abortion care in both the early and later months of pregnancy

During the first three months of 2015, some 332 proposals seeking to restrict women’s access to abortion services were introduced in the states, and nine were enacted. The new provisions include multiple restrictions on the use of medication abortion in Arkansas and Idaho, and a ban on abortions at 20 weeks postfertilization in West Virginia. Taken together, these measures seek to curtail access in both the early and later months of pregnancy, leaving women with fewer options and a greatly reduced time frame to get the care they need...more


Investing in sexual and reproductive health is key to reaching global development goals

Policymakers involved in negotiating the post-2015 development agenda should heed the overwhelming evidence that investing in sexual and reproductive health is a highly effective strategy to improve global health and spur development. Crucially, contraceptive services have to be a core component of such investments as they boost the overall impact on maternal and newborn health—and do so at a lower cost than standalone approaches...more

Related: Commentaries by Guttmacher president and CEO Ann Starrs on and in The Guardian

Related: Full Adding It Up 2014 report and other resources


Better patient protections under Medicaid Managed Care would strengthen family planning services for millions of Americans

New federal rules currently under development for Medicaid health plans run by private-sector managed care organizations could significantly improve enrollees’ health coverage and care, including provision of family planning services. To achieve this goal, Medicaid’s protections for enrollees should be strengthened, monitored and enforced in several important areas: coverage and cost-sharing; confidentiality; choice of providers; and access to information and care...more

Related: Moving Forward: Family Planning in the Era of Health Reform


Unintended pregnancies cost federal and state governments $21 billion in 2010

Government expenditures on the births, abortions and miscarriages resulting from unintended pregnancies in the United States totaled $21 billion in 2010. In 19 states, public expenditures related to unintended pregnancies exceeded $400 million, with the largest expenditures in Texas, California, New York and Florida...more

Unintended pregnancies U.S. map of public costs


In Pakistan, nearly half of all pregnancies are unintended

During the past decade, unmet need for family planning has remained high in Pakistan and increases in contraceptive use have been low. A new study, “Induced Abortions and Unintended Pregnancies in Pakistan,” by Zeba Sathar of the Population Council and Susheela Singh of the Guttmacher Institute, found that in 2012, of the approximately nine million pregnancies that occurred in Pakistan, 4.2 million were unintended. Of these unintended pregnancies, 54% resulted in induced abortions and 34% in unplanned births. Click here for more information.

Additional resources:
Fact sheet in Urdu
Infographic in Urdu


Teen pregnancy rates decline in many countries; U.S. lags behind

In recent decades, despite a considerable decline in teen pregnancy rates in most of the 21 countries with complete statistics, the United States still has the highest teen pregnancy rate among these countries, while the lowest rate is found in Switzerland. The proportion of teen pregnancies that end in abortion varies widely across the 21 countries, even though legal abortion is available on broad grounds in all of them…more


Unplanned births linked to worse infant health outcomes

Compared with women having planned births, those who have unplanned births are less likely to recognize their pregnancy early, to receive early prenatal care or to breast-feed, and are more likely to have low-birth-weight babies. Enabling women to prevent an unintended pregnancy can improve the health of children...more


U.S. publicly funded family planning effort provides critical preventive care

Publicly funded family planning care is vital to ensuring the long-term health of women and their families. The public investment in family planning services not only helps women and couples avoid unintended pregnancy and abortion, but also helps them avoid cervical cancer, HIV and other STIs, infertility, and preterm and low-birth-weight births—all while saving substantial public dollars...more

Three new resources—a new policy analysis, a series of state fact sheets and a web tool—which draw on research published by the Guttmacher Institute, make clear the public health and fiscal benefits resulting from this investment...more


In just the last four years, states have enacted 231 abortion restrictions

In just the last 4 years, states have enacted 231 abortion restrictions During the 2014 state legislative session, 15 states enacted 26 new abortion restrictions. Including these new provisions, states have adopted 231 new abortion restrictions since the 2010 midterm elections swept abortion opponents into power in state capitals across the country. Despite the myriad actions to restrict abortion access, some states did take positive steps on abortion as well as other sexual and reproductive health and rights issues, including requiring insurance coverage for contraceptive methods, protecting confidentiality for individuals insured as dependents; and facilitating STI treatment for a patient’s partner...more


Sexual and reproductive health services fall far short of needs in developing regions

Adding It Up cover Our new report finds a staggering lack of basic sexual and reproductive health services in developing countries. Adding It Up: The Costs and Benefits of Investing in Sexual and Reproductive Health 2014, finds that currently 225 million women in developing countries want to avoid pregnancy, but are not using modern contraceptives. In addition, tens of millions of women do not receive the basic pregnancy and delivery care they need to protect their health and that of their newborns. The report documents the number of women who lack services, what it would cost to meet their needs, and the benefits of meeting these needs...more (español, français)

Click here for additional resources with information on the costs and benefits of investing in sexual and reproductive health, including fact sheets, executive summaries, infographics, videos and a slide show.

The Guttmacher Institute gratefully acknowledges the general support it receives from individuals and foundations—including major grants from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and The David and Lucile Packard Foundation—which undergirds all of its work.