Reproducing Rights

33 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2018 Last revised: 6 Sep 2018

See all articles by Rachel Rebouché

Rachel Rebouché

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Date Written: March 1, 2018


This Article argues that reproductive justice writings, by relying on human rights arguments, may perpetuate a limited vision for global justice—one that contradicts the movement’s core commitments and detracts from the change that the movement’s advocates seek. International human rights law and practice, as traditionally conceived, relies heavily on courts and law reform projects. And it reflects many of the commitments of the U.S. reproductive rights movement. In adopting a human rights framework, reproductive justice may miss possible alliances with other movements, such as those working to understand the social determinants of health and to advance health justice.

In highlighting the potential tension between reproductive justice and human rights, this Article has in mind U.S. advocates, who are central to campaigns for international reproductive rights and seek to incorporate human rights approaches at home. Part I of this Article summarizes the influence of human rights reasoning in reproductive rights generally and abortion rights specifically, the embrace of human rights by U.S. reproductive rights advocates, and the influence of U.S. abortion politics in the international arena. Part II describes the origins of the reproductive justice movement in the United States as well as reproductive justice’s core priorities. It demonstrates how reproductive justice activism moves beyond a focus on abortion and at the same time calls for meaningful access to abortion care for women with and without resources. Part III reviews the references to human rights in reproductive justice literature and questions if human rights, as described by reproductive justice advocates, respond to the deep inequalities of income and socioeconomic status in the delivery of healthcare.

Suggested Citation

Rebouche, Rachel, Reproducing Rights (March 1, 2018). 6 UC Irvine L. Rev. 579 (2018) ; Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2018-27. Available at SSRN:

Rachel Rebouche (Contact Author)

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

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