Access to and protections for reproductive health in the United States continue to be challenged. In recent months, several states have seen extreme ideologies and legislation introduced with a complete disregard for facts, evidence, and science. These attacks on reproductive health, however, won't go unnoticed by advocates working to protect them. In an exclusive video shared with Romper, the Guttmacher Institute partnered up with several reproductive health leaders and advocates to shed light on why facts, science, and comprehensive policies are more crucial now than ever before.
Founded in 1968, the Guttmacher Institute has been a leading organization in research on sexual and reproductive health and rights for decades. Guttmacher is behind several important and groundbreaking studies, covering topics that range from proof that women use contraceptives to pursue their life goals to issues such as unplanned pregnancy rates, or the state of abortion care in the United States.
With so much happening politically and socially, a number of reproductive health care advocates are speaking out about the importance of having clear and objective data. And in honor of the Guttmacher Institute's 50th anniversary, officially marked in 2018, the organization shared an empowering video featuring several prominent advocates who've worked to protect reproductive rights:
- Cecile Richards: Former Planned Parenthood President and Founder of SuperMajority
- Irin Carmon: New York Magazine journalist and author of Notorious RBG
- Natalia Kanem: Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund
- Connie Mao: University of Washington OBGYN and Guttmacher Board Member
- Saumya Ramarao: Senior Program Associate Population Council
- Talcott Camp: Deputy Director ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project
"We are at a clarifying moment in which the wolf is at the door," Carmon says at the beginning of the video. "Anybody who was complacent about women's reproductive freedom, they have to understand what a point of crisis we're at."
Richards adds that there's "never been a more important time to have institutions who have the very best science, the very best facts," and applauded the work Guttmacher has done over the years.
As Carmon explains in the video, the ultimate goal is for "every person to have access to the health care that they need, and the ability to chart their lives as they see fit, regardless of their gender, their sexual orientation, their class, or their race."
Of course, almost all of these principles have been threatened this year alone, as lawmakers continue to introduce restrictive and dangerous anti-choice legislation, such as Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi's so-called "heartbeat bills."
Ramarao adds in the video, however, that in the years ahead, advocates like her want to "empower people to be able to control their own reproductive lives" and "the rigorous research that Guttmacher does is a powerful tool to promote policies that enable people to do just that."
And a powerful, insightful tool it is. For example, previous research from Guttmacher has shown that nearly 1 in 4 women will have an abortion by age 45 and that 59 percent of women who've obtained abortion care are mothers. And in the next 50 years, Guttmacher, which recently hired its new CEO Dr. Herminia Palacio, will continue to do a deep dive into key issues such as the Trump administration's attempts to change Title X and more options for abortion care.
Abortion care and contraceptive use are common, and in the years and decades ahead, Guttmacher remains on a mission to continue to provide research that will, in turn, protect access to them. And Rachel Benson Gold, the Vice President of Public Policy at Guttmacher tells Romper they "know that promoting an evidence-based and inclusive vision is key to combating coercive and harmful policies."
"The assault on sexual and reproductive health and rights experienced over the past years — and the lies, junk science and misinformation that enabled it — could have an impact for decades to come, but so, too, could efforts to stand firm in the face of this hostility," Benson Gold says, adding that the organization is "inspired by the leaders and supporters in this video and across this work who advocate with evidence, and we are committed to spending the next 50 years advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights for all."
Moving forward, the Guttmacher Institute will continue to dive into invaluable research. Because as these advocates and those working directly with the organization explained, reliable and thorough facts for sexual and reproductive health have become increasingly important and will remain so in years to come.