Reproductive rights are a collective term for several topics related to people’s sexual health and their right to reproduce. Most people see these rights as a subsection of human rights. In California, reproductive rights are reflected under state and federal laws, legal precedents, and court decisions. However, this topic continues to arouse many controversies since various groups fight for and protest whether some of the rights should be granted at all and protected under the law.
At Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer, we are skilled in traversing through the obstacles placed over California’s reproductive rights. If you’re seeking legal action or support regarding your rights, our lawyers can help you navigate your options. Please don’t hesitate to call us. We will provide you with legal advice once we assess and understand your situation.
Overview of California Reproductive Rights
Reproductive rights are a person’s right to make decisions concerning reproduction & reproductive and sexual health. Generally, this concept includes a person’s right to access reproductive health services, family planning, termination of pregnancy, access & use of contraceptives, learn about reproduction in school, etc. Reproductive rights activists have faced opposition from those raising ethical and religious issues with regard to reproduction. Reproductive rights remain a politically and emotionally charged matter.
Under California statute, you are entitled to emergency contraception, birth control, abortion services, prenatal care, pregnancy testing, and testing & treatment for STDs/STIs (sexually transmitted diseases/infections). You don’t need anybody’s consent, including your guardians or parents. You are entitled to obtain these services privately— the doctor or clinic can’t tell anybody why you visited, except if you permit them to do so. You can also leave school to obtain these kinds of services without telling or seeking permission from your guardians or parents.
Here is a breakdown of the most critical things you should know regarding your rights as far as reproductive health is concerned:
Pregnancy and the Options You Have
If you think you may be pregnant, you are entitled to undergo confidential pregnancy testing. If you’re indeed pregnant, then you have different options—you can choose to keep the pregnancy and be a parent, put the baby up for adoption, or terminate the pregnancy by doing an abortion. In case you are not sure of how you will pay for care or require support in deciding about the pregnancy, various resources could help— irrespective of the decision you will make.
If You Choose to Terminate the Pregnancy
Abortion is one of the controversial issues involving reproduction in California. This issue revolves around whether a woman should be permitted to end a pregnancy that would amount to a living human being if it remained untouched. On one-hand, pro-choice advocates claim that abortion is within an individual’s legal right to privacy, believing the choice to terminate an unborn baby lies with the person and their physician. On the other hand, pro-life advocates claim that a fetus is a living being right from when it is conceived and argue that abortion shouldn’t be legal to protect an unborn baby’s life.
Despite all these controversies, abortion has remained legal in California. If you wish to terminate your pregnancy, you’re entitled to have an abortion for whatever reason until about six months into your pregnancy. You do not need anybody’s consent, and the law protects your privacy. But you could ask for support from a person who cares about you, for instance, a counselor, friend, or parents. In most parts of Los Angeles, we have abortion volunteers or doulas who can accompany you to the doctor’s appointment, so you do not have to be alone.
If You Choose To Be a Parent
If you are a school going teenager, you have the right to continue going to school both while you are pregnant and after giving birth. It is unlawful for the school to treat or see you differently only because you are a parent or pregnant. It is your right to stay in that same institution and engage in all school dances, physical education, or any other school activities, and graduate. We have schools that have exceptional programs for teenage parents. However, you don’t need to change classes or schools just because you are parenting or pregnant.
Additionally, if you want to, you can keep the pregnancy a secret. Your school can’t reveal it or draw public attention towards it without your consent. If you must go to a doctor’s appointment if the school is still on, the school administration should permit you to go and can’t inform your parents/guardians or try obtaining their permission. Similarly, if you or your baby is sick, you’re entitled to miss school. You only have to ensure you notify the school why you are absent.
In Case You Opt to Give the Baby Up for Adoption
Suppose you’re pregnant, but you do not want to terminate the pregnancy or raise a child. In this case, you have the right to put the baby up for adoption. When you do this, it means you are waiving your lawful rights and responsibilities as the parent. If you are about to deliver and did not make any adoption arrangements, do not panic. California law permits a parent to drop off a newborn baby at a fire station or hospital within three days after delivering without providing their names or landing themselves in trouble.
Birth Control & Emergency Contraception
Birth control is lawful in California for everybody, and nobody has to know you are using it. Additionally, nobody can force you into using birth control in case you do not want to. You’re entitled to make independent decisions about the use of birth control and keep it private.
In case you plan on having sexual intercourse and do not want to conceive, you also have options. There are several different types of birth control, including condoms, IUD, and the pill. As per California law, you can obtain your birth control prescription and have a pharmacist fill it directly without seeing a clinician or doctor first. Additionally, you are entitled to purchase condoms without age restriction and any prescription.
If you did not use any birth control during sexual intercourse or you had used a condom, but then it broke, emergency contraception, at times known as the morning-after pill, EC, or Plan B, can prevent you from conceiving. Emergency contraception will only work within the first five days of engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse, and the sooner you take it, the more likely it is to be effective. You can purchase most emergency contraception from a pharmacy without any prescription, regardless of your age.
To learn more about the birth control options you have, speak to your physician, or visit a family planning clinic. And if a person has infringed on your rights to birth control/emergency contraceptive, talk to an attorney for help.
It is your legal right to undergo confidential testing & treatment for HIV and STIs. This means that you can be tested for STI, including HIV/AIDS, without seeking permission from anybody if you’re at least twelve years. Additionally, you can undergo treatment, and the doctor or clinic cannot inform your guardians or parents.
It is your right to undergo testing for sexually transmitted infections during school time. Go to the school’s office and inform the administration that you need to go to a private medical appointment. The administration ought to permit you to go without asking any questions.
Paying for Sexual Health Services
Many private health insurance policies cover prenatal care, birth control, abortion, maternity care, and childbirth. They also cover STI/STD testing and screening, but they are not obligated to cover the treatment.
California State also has low-cost or free programs that assist young people in paying for the testing & treatment, should you need them. For instance, Family PACT is a state program that pays for most reproductive and sexual health services such as birth control, pregnancy tests, counseling, and STI testing & treatment. These services are private & confidential. You can obtain them irrespective of your immigration status or age. Medi-Cal pays for pregnancy-related health care, including delivery, abortion, prenatal care, postpartum care, and delivery if you have a low income.
Public Schools & Sex Education
Public schools based in California have to teach age-appropriate, comprehensive, and medically accurate sex education to students in grades seven to twelve. This is according to a 2015 statute called the California Health Youth Act. As per this law, every school must adhere to the state’s definition of sex education as an all-inclusive education concerning human development & sexuality. This could include family planning, education concerning pregnancy, STD/STIs, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.
Mentioning that sex education has to be comprehensive means that schools have to teach different forms of sexual health and not be restricted only to not having sexual intercourse (abstinence) until marriage. This includes different forms of contraception for both men & women and abortion. Additionally, schools are supposed to teach HIV prevention education, including the nature of the illness, how it’s transmitted, ways to reduce its risk, and other social & public health issues.
The law also mandates that the curriculum has to be LGBTI inclusive so that no student is left out irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Before the present law was passed, schools weren’t required to teach sex education. However, if they did, the law obligated that that education had to be all-inclusive. Interestingly a study carried out in 2003 showed that more than 95% of schools taught sex education but another research in 2011 revealed that 42% of school districts weren’t teaching about the contraception methods approved by the FDA. Only a quarter of the state’s school districts were teaching students about emergency contraception methods.
The California Health Youth Act then became a means to ensure that all students statewide are taught similar content, increase sex education knowledge, and lower higher rates of STIs like gonorrhea & syphilis and teenage pregnancy.
However, experts have pointed out that this new statute has a problem. California doesn’t have a way to make sure that all schools are adhering to this law. This could continue leading to a varied approach toward sex education for both female and male students.
Rights to Assisted Reproduction for Intended Parents
In most cases, intended parents are persons who have tried for several years to become parents. They so badly want to be parents that they are willing to do anything to accomplish this dream. Intended parents include all types of single people and couples. There is no typical intended parent. For instance, they can be:
- Same-sex male couples
- Single men who want a child
- Same-sex female couples who can’t carry a child themselves
- Single women who can’t carry a baby to term themselves because of health risks or infertility
- Heterosexual couples struggling with the inability to carry a child and infertility
Intended parents usually face obstacles in the traditional adoption process. For one, the process could be challenging and costly and it has little guarantee of success.
Luckily, developments in assisted reproductive technology make other choices available. Embryo donation, in vitro fertilization (IVF), artificial insemination, or surrogacy might help you and your partner achieve your dreams of beginning a family.
(IVF) & the Law
IVF is the most common and successful method of assisted reproduction treatment utilized currently. Whereas it was initially used only when a woman had missing or blocked fallopian tubes, it has now become the most preferred treatment option to counter infertility. IVF gives women who can’t carry a baby otherwise the chance to have a child, which solves a wide range of infertility issues.
If you are medically incapable of bearing a child as a woman, IVF with a surrogate will allow you the chance to bear a child/children biologically related to you. If you are a would-be mother and your ovaries have failed to generate ovum, IVF using an egg donor provides you with a solution to your infertility issues. IVF has proven to be the most viable and flexible assisted reproductive treatment method available as it has a success rate of over 70 percent per transfer.
Egg Donation & the Law
Originally, egg donation was used to help young women who were suffering from premature ovarian failure. However, nowadays, it is an excellent treatment method for women of all ages who are genetic disease carriers or unable to produce viable eggs. Egg donation has a success rate of almost 50 percent per egg donation cycle. Another good thing is that there is the availability of non-anonymous donors. Due to these reasons, egg donation has now become a commonly used assisted reproduction method.
Whether the donor egg is transferred into a surrogate or directly to you, egg donation has availed you options that were previously unavailable. Most importantly, most jurisdictions treat the use of a donor egg similarly to that of donated sperms. This eliminates the need to adopt a child as you are considered the lawful parent of the baby.
Your Rights and Artificial Insemination
Artificial insemination is the oldest assisted reproduction method. It refers to the placement of sperms in the female reproductive tract. If you are a couple experiencing infertility because of low sperm count, morphology, or motility, artificial insemination is usually recommended, whether by using the donor sperm or the husband’s sperm.
With regard to using donor sperm, the husband has to consent to the artificial insemination of his wife and agree that the law will treat the child as though it were his biological child. Apart from artificial insemination being flexible, there’s also the capability of using a surrogate wherever the woman can’t either carry a baby to term or conceive.
These options aren’t without challenges. From a legal point of view, there are several important considerations you might need to pursue like:
- Establishing your parental rights
- Negotiating & drafting a surrogacy/donor agreement that indicates clear expectations and safeguards your rights as intended parents
- Avoiding lawful pitfalls that could derail the whole process
Drafting a comprehensive surrogacy contract and establishing parental rights go hand in hand. The pre-birth order that establishes parental rights ensures that you are listed on the child’s birth certificate as the parent. Generally, the process could take months, so you want to start the paperwork as soon as possible after the first trimester into surrogacy. This process is critical and necessary if you wish to avoid delays. You ought to seek legal advice and guidance before embarking on the process towards becoming a parent.
Contact a Reproductive Rights Attorney Near Me
Considering the controversies surrounding the topic of reproductive rights in California and the technological changes related to reproduction, it is likely that cases before courts will continue to increase. However, this shouldn’t worry you as long as you know your rights. If you believe a person has violated any of your rights, call Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer right away at 310-695-5212. Attorneys at our firm are reproductive rights defenders serving people in Los Angeles and the surrounding counties whose rights have been violated. If you have a case or want to learn more about your reproductive rights, please reach out to us at any time.