Reproductive Rights and Sexual Health
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Whether, when and how to have children are among the most important personal decisions for a great many adults, regardless of sexual orientation or HIV status. But for many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV-affected people, finding a health care provider to deal with these issues can be challenging. Those who need help with problems related to fertility or sexual functioning can encounter even greater difficulty finding access to high-quality, culturally sensitive health care. National medical ethics rules and many state rules require that individual health care providers, hospitals, clinics and other health care institutions must treat LGBT people and those living with HIV with dignity. Furthermore, all providers must treat patients according to the medical standard of care, without imposing barriers to comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care because of their own prejudices or religious beliefs about LGBT people and those with HIV.
Reproductive health care — including access to screening and well care, contraception, sterilization, abortion and infertility treatment — continues to be one of the most contested issues of our time. The constitutional right to privacy includes the right to control what you do with your body and the choices you make about sexual intimacy. This was established in landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases protecting a woman's right to contraception and abortion and also in Lambda Legal's landmark victory, Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down criminal sodomy laws and established the fundamental liberty right to private sexual intimacy for all adults. But these victories have not given the final word on securing equal liberty in family relationships and reproduction. Across the country, reactionary religious and political groups are working to expand the ability of individual health care providers, health care institutions and insurers to limit access to health care for LGBT people and people with HIV based on health care providers' religious beliefs and prejudices.
Lambda Legal's Impact
For years, Lambda Legal has fought discriminatory denials of health care to people with HIV. We are now building on that expertise to seek equal access to reproductive and sexual health care. Current cases involve a lesbian who was denied infertility treatment and a gay man who was denied treatment for sexual dysfunction. We are also pressing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to revise its scientifically unsound restrictions on gay men donating sperm to help women who wish to become pregnant. Our work on these important issues recognizes the foundational principal vindicated by our Supreme Court victory in the Lawrence case: Each of us should be free to build loving adult relationships and to create families according to our own personal choices, without encountering discriminatory barriers and rejection from those licensed to provide skilled care.