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United States

Katelyn Beans


The fourteenth amendment in the United States Constitution guarantees equality protection under the law.

Amendment 14- Sect 1 “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”


In the famous 1973 Roe vs. Wade court case, the court upheld the fourteenth amendment that the right to privacy includes a woman’s right to decide to have an abortion.

In 1992, the Court reaffirmed the right to abortion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. A 24-hour waiting period was required for an abortion, informed consent requirement, and a parental consent provision. However, the ruling significantly weakened the legal protections previously afforded and gave more power to the state to limit access to certain abortions.

Restrictions on abortion vary by state. State laws target abortion clinics and methods of practice. 43 states prohibit abortion after a certain point in pregnancy.

Partial-birth abortion ban 2003- law that bans the practice of partial-birth abortion in the states.

Female genital mutilation

Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act of 1995: “The law makes it illegal to perform FGM in the U.S. or knowingly transport a girl out of the U.S. for the purpose of inflicting FGM.”

Transport for Female Genital Mutilation Act 2013- outlawed the taking of girls overseas to perform the procedure.

Rights of sexual minorities

Employment Nondiscrimination Act: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

LGBT rights and anti-discrimination laws differ from state to state. There are twenty-two states where anti-discrimination laws against sexual minorities are in place.

Same sex marriage was legalized in the US in 2015.

Same sex joint adoption is allowed in all states except Mississippi.

Violence against women

Violence against Women Act 1994: “a. enhanced investigations and prosecutions of sex offenses and b. provided for a number of grant programs to address the issue of violence against women from a variety of angles, including law enforcement, public and private entities and service providers, and victims of crime.”

The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act “provides the main federal funding to help victims of domestic violence and their dependents (such as children).”

There is no national rape law. Rape and sexual assault are defined under the 10 U.S. Code § 920 - Art. 120. Rape and sexual assault generally. Marital rape is considered a sexual assault and punishable by law. Each state has its own laws regarding rape and sexual assault.

Family planning

Title X of the Public Health Service Act 1970- federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services.

Rights of transgender people

There is no federal law that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in employment.

Non-discrimination laws differ from state to state. Twelve states (California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington) and the District of Columbia prohibit discrimination against transgender people in employment.

Employment laws and policies by state. States that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity: Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Hawaii and Delaware. States that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation only: Wisconsin, New York, and New Hampshire.

Same-sex marriage legalized in the US on June 26, 2015: “The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state.”

Human trafficking

The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005, and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 provide the tools to combat trafficking in persons both worldwide and domestically.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act 2000 provides a definition and made it a federal crime: “prosecution of perpetrators of trafficking in persons by establishing the crimes of trafficking in persons and listing the punishments, protection of victims of trafficking by creating a bill of rights for victims, including the right to medical care, shelter, restitution, civil remedy, residency status, work permit, access to information, and prevention of trafficking by allowing for programs and grants to increase awareness on human trafficking.”


HIV testing laws have been enacted in 49 states plus Washington D.C.

HIV/AIDS discrimination: HIV is considered a disability under anti-discrimination laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act and those with HIV are provided coverage under it.

Criminalization of HIV transmission- HIV diagnosed persons can be prosecuted for exposing another person to HIV.

Sexual and reproductive rights challenges

  • Making healthcare a national right
  • Human trafficking
  • Transgender rights and discrimination