The law's relationship with sex is, not surprisingly, a complicated one, with the law serving dual roles as punisher of sexual misdeeds and guarantor of sexual privacy. And yet, even as the Supreme Court has broadened its protection of sexual privacy between consenting adults, many topics at the intersection of law and sexuality remain unsettled—these are the subjects of this issue of Human Rights.
The Supreme Court has validated sexual rights only insofar as such rights support a nonsexual goal. On the issue of access to contraception and abortion, the Court rests constitutional protections on the burdens pregnancy presents on women’s health. The author suggests developing a larger vision of an interrelated set of sexual and reproductive rights to break down the Court’s siloed approach to these interrelated human experiences.
Comprehensive sexuality education holds far more promise for promoting positive sexual behaviors among young people than abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. Yet, the debate goes on about which approach to fund and how medical accuracy clauses should be included in state legislation mandating comprehensive sexuality education.
New technologies are affecting aging laws that target obscenity and child pornography, especially when one considers “community” standards on the Internet, how teen sexting collides with child pornography laws, and the meaning of the terms “possession” and “possesses” in child pornography statutes for computer viewed images.
Does a person have a right to know a sex partner’s HIV status? Does a person living with HIV have the right not to disclose status prior to sex? The authors of this article conclude that developing a set of rules regarding HIV risk and when to disclose status cannot reflect the myriad sexual interaction circumstances and might even undermine larger public health goals.
Structural barriers to sexual and reproductive autonomy of disabled people include (1) anti-sodomy statutes, (2) disincentives to marriage, (3) lack of accessible and culturally competent sexual and reproductive health care, (4) denial of parental rights, and (5) removal of sexual freedom in institutions and nursing facilities.
Public health legislation intended to halt HIV infection is undermined by the government’s desire to stifle debate about prostitution. Sex workers are at increased risk for HIV infection, yet implementers of HIV/AIDS programs are reluctant to engage in public debate about effective responses for fear of losing U.S. government funding.
The issues surrounding the legality of polygamy are much more complex than recent television shows that make polygamy appear attractive portray, particularly in terms of women’s and children’s rights.
Estelle Griswold’s courage forced the U.S. Supreme Court to address Connecticut’s law prohibiting the use of contraceptives by married couples in the landmark case on sexual rights, Griswold v. Connecticut.