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Contemporary Debate over Reproductive Rights

Over the past forty years, courts and legislatures have developed a doctrine on reproductive rights based on the premise that the government should leave the individual woman or couple alone in making the fundamental decision about whether to conceive and bear a child. Women who have the means may seek reproductive services without government interference. But this “hands-off” approach offers little help to women without means. Freedom of choice is of little comfort to those whose poverty and ill health make it impossible to care for a new baby. Public funds for services are limited and subject to annual budget fights. Native American women on reservations are totally dependent on federal support, often uncertain due to pro-life pressures on Congress.