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date: 22 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

In calling for access to health care needed to achieve reproductive goals, defenders of reproductive freedom typically appeal to rights. Behind these appeals lie important differences about rights: Are they human rights or civil rights? Rights to protection from interference, to legal process, or to some further distribution of resources? This chapter develops a civil rights approach to reproduction. It first explains foundational differences between human rights claims and civil rights claims. The former rest on conceptions of what it is to be human and thus risk rendering rightless those individuals who do not fit the specified idea. The latter ground rights in claims of both typical and atypical individuals to inclusion in given social circumstances. Civil rights claims thus challenge unequal treatment of atypical people’s reproductive functioning, whether the issue is involuntary sterilization, lack of access to reproductive care, or threatened termination of parental rights.

Keywords: human rights, civil rights, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, sterilization, disability, contraception, abortion, termination of parental rights, Buck v. Bell, Skinner v. Oklahoma

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