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Reproductive Justice

What is reproductive justice?

Reproductive justice anchors the struggle for reproductive rights in a larger framework of social justice. In 2005, Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice (now Forward Together) defined it as “complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, social, and economic well-being of women and girls, based on the full achievement and protection of women's human rights.”

Reproductive justice, coined in 1994 at a caucus of black women in Chicago, advocates not just for the right to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy but also for equality in the social and economic factors which inform that choice. In short, reproductive justice focuses equally on the right to not have a child, the right to have a child, and the right to parent the children one has, as well as controlling birthing options. It recognizes bodily autonomy as a human right.

How is it different from being pro-choice?

Historically, the pro-choice movement has focused on abortion as the key reproductive issue for all women. Reproductive justice sees intersections, like race and class, which affect others as more important than abortion alone. A purely pro-choice framework fails to recognize that even if abortion is legal, no one can freely “choose” an option that is too expensive, too far away, or requires too much time off from work or childcare. It also fails to recognize the inequalities in opportunity which prevent some women from having or raising children who they want. Reproductive justice is about access, not choice, and not only about abortion.

What things are important for reproductive justice?

Health

Reproductive justice understands that there is no right to choose without access to clear, scientific, unbiased education about reproductive health for all women and girls. This means all people need education about sex, sexuality, sexually transmitted infections (and how to be tested or treated for them), the reproductive system and bodily health overall.

Rights

The movement fights for legal, affordable access to contraception and abortion for all. Women deserve to control their bodies, whether through contraceptive options like the pill, condoms, intrauterine devices, and vaginal rings, through emergency contraception like Plan B, or through termination of unwanted pregnancies. These options should be readily available, safe and medically sound. It fights for prenatal and pregnancy care as well as choice in birth options for those who are pregnant.

Personal, family and community wellness

Reproductive justice is a framework that looks beyond an individualistic model of “choice” to the greater well-being of communities and families. By recognizing the unique barriers communities of color or those without economic power face, the movement seeks to uplift people collectively. By empowering women to control their bodies, we build stronger communities, and by strengthening communities, we empower women.

Sources: Sister Song, Trust Black Women, Pro-Choice Public Education Project

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