In partnership with the United Nation’s Universal Access Project, we brought together leaders from reproductive health advocacy, policy and communications organizations to discuss the future of global reproductive healthcare access in a post Roe v. Wade era.
We were honored to have a panel of esteemed experts including Sarah Craven, Director of the North American Representational Office, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Jonathan Wittenberg, Executive Vice President of the Guttmacher Institute, Briana Ferrigno, President of McCann Global Health, and Seema Jalan, Executive Director at the United Nations Foundation’s Universal Access Project and Policy who moderated the discussion.
The panelists shared insights on how the overturning of Roe v. Wade has impacted the work of their organizations, and how the United States can continue to lead the global sexual and reproductive health and rights movement, despite regress at home.
“Even as we move backwards in the context of the U.S., I think we can all agree that the U.S. must lead, and it can continue to lead. Of course, it will need to lead with humility, with a renewed urgency and in deep coalition with countries around the world to fulfill its commitment on these issues, including globally,” Seema said.
Insights from reproductive and sexual health advocates
Advocating for full bodily autonomy is a large focus of the UNFPA’s work, and Sarah from UNFPA notes the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade calls on the organization to work “harder, deeper and more loudly on advocating for sexual and reproductive rights.”
“Everyone has the right to bodily autonomy and we need to work with civil society, corporations, educators and everyone all together to ensure women, girls and all people know about their rights and choices,” Sarah said.
Insights from policy organizations
Jonathan from Guttmacher Institute noted there is a tremendous amount to learn from other countries, especially how grassroots organizations have built networks to provide and facilitate abortion access and push for liberalization. The Guttmacher Institute has focused on adopting methods for measuring abortion in restrictive settings and is evaluating how to make their data more meaningful and accessible to policymakers, advocates and people in the U.S. and around the world.
“Our estimate is that approximately 1 in 4 women will have an abortion in her lifetime in the U.S.,” Jonathan noted, emphasizing that restricting abortion access does not reduce the number of abortions. It only makes them more dangerous. “Just as that need is increasing, access is being cut off. So that is really of deep concern.”
Implications for brand communicators
Working with leading healthcare organizations and companies around the world, McCann Global Health’s guidance to partners, even before the overturning of Roe v. Wade, has been to be bold about women’s health and to look at it as a fundamental right, Briana said.
“We’re not using euphemisms; we’re not hiding behind language to stigmatize the conversation,” Briana said. “I think being bold, being authentic, using channels that matter, and where women are, has been important guidance and tools for products, for manufacturers and for new health companies to get in front of women.”
To underscore the importance of this issue and to advance reproductive healthcare in the United States and around the world, panelists stressed the need for storytelling. Briana also highlighted the need to share your voice and exercise the right to vote.
“No matter where you fall on the issue, it’s so important to make sure that you’re having a say in our future,” Briana said.