Doulas as Agents of Reproductive Justice Who Promote of Women’s International Human Rights: An Evidence-Based Review and Comparative Case Study Between Brazil and the United States
Increasingly, women’s health is improving, and women’s rights are being realized. In spite of this, women’s healthcare experiences and internationally recognized health indicators suggest that the quality of maternal healthcare is inadequate for many women. Reproductive justice serves as a platform to both improve reproductive health and reproductive rights. We argue that doulas serve as agents of reproductive justice because their work advances maternal health and women’s empowerment through three means: improving health outcomes, promoting women’s control over their health, and reducing cost-related health disparities. Using a reproductive justice lens, this paper explores the ways in which doula work supports the goals of the international human rights community through various human rights declarations and goals of the United Nations that focus on women’s health, maternal health, child health, and women’s empowerment. Specifically, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Sustainable Development Goals are analyzed to identify how doula services may be incorporated to complement strategies to improve maternal health. This paper also provides a cross-cultural comparison of how doula work is promoted and challenged through national policies and programs in two case example countries representing different health systems, cultures, and stages of development: Brazil and the United States. This comparison provides a practical application of our hypothesis that countries adopting doula-friendly policies may better promote reproductive justice and engage in the promotion of international human rights.
KeywordsDoula Reproductive justice Human rights
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