Our Mission

The Center for Reproductive Rights uses the power of law to advance reproductive rights as fundamental human rights around the world.

Our Vision

We envision a world where every person participates as an equal member of society with dignity, regardless of gender; where every woman is free to decide whether or when to have children and whether to marry; where access to quality reproductive health care is guaranteed; and where women can make these decisions free from coercion or discrimination.

We celebrate our achievements and recommit our efforts to stay strong in the fight for women’s rights, health, autonomy, and dignity.”
Nancy Northup, President and CEO, Center for Reproductive Rights
Amy Metzler Ritter, Board Chair, Center for Reproductive Rights


A Year of Landmark Victories in Challenging Environments

In some of the most challenging environments in the world, we have secured landmark rulings that are advancing reproductive rights as fundamental human rights. In courts and before human rights bodies, through litigation and advocacy, we are dismantling longstanding legal barriers that for generations have kept women and girls from receiving the health care they need. In the face of a determined opposition and the consequential legal battles that lie ahead, it is our values, our resilience, and our courage that will guide us through the coming year. We are grateful to everyone whose commitment makes it possible for us to keep fighting and to keep winning.

Nancy Northup, President and CEO
Amy Metzler Ritter, Board Chair

The majority today fails to meaningfully apply the undue burden test” applied in Whole Woman’s Health. “For that reason,” the decision “ought not stand.”
Dissent by Judge Patrick Higginbotham in the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

U.S. Supreme Court Showdown

The Center appealed a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upholding a Louisiana law intended to shut down clinics and decimate abortion access in the state. This law is identical to the Texas law struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in our 2016 landmark case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Like the Texas law, the Louisiana law requires doctors who provide abortion care to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles – a requirement that is medically unnecessary and provides no benefit to the patient. The Supreme Court’s decision will have a profound impact on women in Louisiana as well as significant implications regarding Supreme Court precedent and abortion rights and access nationwide.

In Guatemala last year, 2,256 girls between 10 and 14 [years old] gave birth. In Nicaragua, it is estimated that eight out of 10 sexual violence survivors are girls under the age of 13.”
The Guardian

Challenging the Denial of Abortion Care in Latin America

We took bold action in Ecuador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua with the launch of four simultaneous lawsuits at the United Nations Human Rights Committee that aim to reform abortion laws across the region. The litigation, called “El Golpe,” or “The Strike,” exemplifies our innovative and determined work to advance reproductive rights as human rights. In these countries, where the lack of abortion rights and access cause tremendous harm and suffering, this litigation will have a profound impact. Our clients are four women who became pregnant as young teenagers – 14 and under – as the result of rape and were denied abortions.

It came down to a mind’s-eye picture of a young person, 15 or 16 years old, getting a pregnancy test result that she doesn’t want, and asking what her options were and might she be able to get an abortion.”
George Hill, President and CEO, Maine Family Planning

Preserving Access to Care in the U.S.

As President Trump and his administration kept up the relentless assaults on reproductive rights, we challenged the administration’s rules that would deny women insurance coverage for contraceptives and encourage health care providers to use religion as an excuse to discriminate and refuse services. We also challenged the administration’s new gag rule, which withholds federal Title X funding to health care providers who even suggest abortion as an option for patients. The rule especially threatens low-income and uninsured people who rely on Title X-funded providers. Rather than lose the ability to counsel patients about abortion care, our client, Maine Family Planning, chose to give up $2 million in Title X funding while the case proceeds.

This is what my daughter would have wanted: that Kenyan women and girls in need of emergency health services, regardless of their social or economic status, are able to access safe and legal abortion services without fear of being stigmatized.”
JMM’s mother

Fighting for Abortion as a Human Right in Kenya

We secured a major victory when the High Court in Kenya affirmed protections for legal abortion when the life or health of a pregnant woman is threatened. We challenged government policies and practices that barred medical schools from teaching abortion methods, heightening the stigma around abortion and leading to an increase in unsafe abortions. Thanks to the ruling, the government must issue clear standards and guidelines on abortion and allow training in abortion at medical schools, which will help to remove the fear of criminal penalties and ostracism for abortion providers and patients. Our client JMM was an adolescent Kenyan girl who died of complications from an unsafe abortion.

Federal law has long guaranteed every woman the right to make her own medical decisions… I’m pleased that the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision now conclusively respects and recognizes that right under Kansas law as well.”
Laura Kelly, Governor of Kansas

Strengthening Protections in U.S. State Constitutions

We won a historic victory when the Kansas Supreme Court ruled for the first time that the Kansas Constitution protects the right to personal autonomy – including the right to abortion. The court found that the Kansas Constitution’s proclamation of natural rights includes the right to make decisions about one’s body, health, family formation, and family life. In another win, Montana’s Supreme Court reaffirmed the state constitution’s abortion rights guarantee. Our challenge blocked a physician-only law that would have forced our client – the only abortion provider in a large rural region – to stop providing abortion care and leave women in the area without access. Our client can now continue to serve the women who need abortion care.

The High Court ruling reflects unprecedented recognition by a court in Pakistan that the government is constitutionally obligated to ensure the availability and accessibility of quality obstetric services.”
—Payal Shah, Acting Director, Asia Program Center for Reproductive Rights

A Victory for Women’s Health in Pakistan

Working through our South Asia Reproductive Justice Accountability Initiative (SARJAI) – a partnership with advocates across the region – we achieved a historic ruling that will transform the lives of thousands of women in Pakistan’s Sindh Province by ensuring that they can get the medical care they need. The decision ordered the government to greatly expand access to care – free of charge – for obstetric fistula, a devastating condition that is widespread in Pakistan and often leads to stigma and isolation. This victory was the Center’s first in Pakistan.

Pregnant school girls have a right to education and should be supported to stay in school.”
—Fulgence Massawe, Director of Advocacy and Reforms Legal and Human Rights Centre

Protecting the Rights of Pregnant Girls in Tanzania

Education provides the best hope of a better life for girls living in poverty. But for years, the Tanzanian government has forced public school girls to undergo pregnancy testing and has permanently expelled girls who are pregnant – denying them the opportunity to complete their education and pursue personal and professional goals. Together with our partner, the Legal and Human Rights Centre in Tanzania, we brought a case before the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child to demand an end to this practice. The case is at the heart of our work to advance women’s and girls’ right to equality, autonomy, and dignity.

These bans would bring us “closer to the old Mississippi… the Mississippi bent on controlling women and minorities.”
—Carlton W. Reeves, Mississippi District Court Judge

Blocking Extreme Anti-Abortion Laws in the U.S.

We took swift action in cases across the country to block extreme and deceptive new laws designed to prevent women from exercising their constitutional right to abortion. And in some of the most underserved regions of the United States, we dismantled longstanding laws in order to dramatically expand access to abortion care.

We challenged a North Dakota law that forced doctors to give their patients false information about medication abortion, and temporarily blocked this law. Working with national and local partners, we blocked laws in Mississippi and Georgia banning abortion at six weeks of pregnancy, when many women don’t yet know they’re pregnant. While nine states have passed abortion bans, all these bans have been blocked.


We achieved a new record in financial growth and expansion of staff and program during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2019. This enabled us to increase our capacity and impact across all program areas.

Our total revenue increased by 6% to a record $32.8 million. Seventy-three percent of expenses went directly to program. Our total net assets at the close of the fiscal year were $45,382,050.



Pro Bono

Through our Pro Bono Program, 872 law firm attorneys in 55 countries worked on more than 270 matters this fiscal year. Together, our dedicated pro bono partners contributed legal services valued at over $25.6 million.

We are deeply grateful to the firms and individuals using the power of law to make a difference in women’s lives around the world.

With Thanks

None of our vital work would be possible without the commitment of our many friends and supporters who share our vision and who understand what is at stake. With your support, we enter 2020 ever more determined to wield the power of law to change the lives and futures of women and girls across the globe.

Thank you for standing with us in the struggle to realize a world where reproductive rights are recognized everywhere as fundamental human rights.

Download the full annual report.


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