Building Another World: New Tools for Reproductive Justice

Eesha Pandit

Last week at the United States Social Forum, a group of organizations and activists created a new activist tool, "The Reproductive Justice Briefing Book: A Primer on Reproductive Justice and Social Change."

Last week marked the United States Social Forum, held in Atlanta, Georgia. From the USSF website:

The US Social Forum is more than a conference, more than a networking bonanza, more than a reaction to war and repression. The USSF will provide space to build relationships, learn from each other's experiences, share our analysis of the problems our communities face, and bring renewed insight and inspiration. It will help develop leadership and develop consciousness, vision, and strategy needed to realize another world. The USSF sends a message to other people's movements around the world that there is an active movement in the US opposing US Policies at home and abroad.

In addition to the excellent posts from our Choice USA contingent, has a great set of articles in their Voices of the USSF series. All of these voices are harkening a sea change in anti-globalization organizing, namely, the inclusion of reproductive justice as a central and inextricable issue for a global movement.

To elaborate on these connections and demonstrate how reproductive rights activists make links with other social justice issues, a group of organizations and activists have created a new activist tool, the Reproductive Justice Briefing Book: A Primer on Reproductive Justice and Social Change.

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The briefing booklet contains a series of articles and issue papers to help social justice activists of all stripes to incorporate reproductive justice into their work. The strategy is about more than merely including the correct sound bites. Instead of stopping at inclusive language, reproductive justice advocates push for an awareness that a woman's access to reproductive justice is directly influenced by the conditions in her community and social life. At the micro level, this is a means by which women can connect these issues in their own day-to-day lives. At the macro level, reproductive justice is a means by which movements can be connected to each other.

Here's a sampling:

In "Listen Up!: How to Connect with Young Women Through Reproductive Justice," Mary Mahoney from the Pro-Choice Public Education Project writes:

We have recently experienced some landmark developments in our field, such as the FDA approval of the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil and prescription-free Emergency Contraception for people over 18. But until we can assure reproductive autonomy for all young people, we have little time to pat ourselves on the back… Today young people want to address reproductive issues in their own, contemporary terms, focusing on prevention and families and healthy futures. We who advocate for and promote the activism of young women in the reproductive rights and health movement can support this activism with a reproductive justice framework.

In an article on the Hyde Amendment, Stephanie Poggi writes:

Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has violated these human rights by forbidding public funding of abortion—and thus, effectively denying the right to abortion to thousands and thousands of poor women. Because of the Hyde Amendment, women across the U.S. struggle to raise money to cover the cost of abortion. They often sacrifice food and other necessities and delay paying rent and utilities. Too often, they can't raise enough money and they are unable to obtain an abortion….

Because of racialized poverty in the U.S., women of color disproportionately rely on public sources of health care; so the denial of Medicaid funding impacts these women most heavily. The fight to restore Medicaid coverage is an important matter of racial justice, as well as economic justice and women's rights.

In "Reproductive Justice and Women of Color," Toni M. Bond writes:

When women of color look at reproductive health through a lens that considers race, class, and gender, they can begin to understand why embracing the reproductive justice framework is so important. We can recognize reproductive justice as the missing link in the larger movement's attempts to organize and partner with women of color…

As a woman of color working on reproductive justice at the grassroots level, it is imperative that I also fight against sexual and domestic violence, homophobia, HIV/AIDS, and substance abuse as a part of the fight for abortion access and the right to bear children.

As we see from these snippets, the reproductive justice framework is multifaceted approach that has a significant charge—to incorporate the many aspects of our lives that affect our ability to make reproductive choices. For more information and a whole host of resources be sure and peruse the briefing booklet!

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