Loretta Ross is a co-founder and former national coordinator for SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective,
a national coalition of 80+ women of color and allied reproductive
justice organizations headquartered in Atlanta. Ross researches and
writes extensively on African-American women and abortion and
co-authored Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organize for Reproductive Justice, a book on the history of the activism of women of color.
Reproductive justice is about human rights, including the right to have children, the right not to have children, and the right to parent the children we have in safe and healthy environments. This week at the United Nations, South Africa Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini focused on reproductive justice as a global framework.
After winning a settlement that opened the door for thousands of women to initiate malpractice lawsuits against Dalkon Shield, the IUD that caused my sterilization, I naively thought we had seen the end of sterilization atrocities. Unfortunately, that is not so, at least in California.
“Inclusivity” and “intersectionality” are not just words. They describe the theory and practice of the reproductive justice movement with the potential to revitalize all of our advocacy and enable us to create the large and motivated base of support required to secure reproductive rights, health, and justice for all.
The defeat of Mississippi Initiative 26 and the gains for reproductive choice today in Mississippi--while critical--may in the long run be seen as pyrrhic victories given the ominous implications of Initiative 27, the exclusionary voter ID initiative that will disenfranchise thousands of African Americans, immigrants, married women, transgendered people, and Native Americans.
In Mississippi, two ballot initiatives threaten the health and lives of women across the state, and the disenfranchisement of the largest bloc of voters in the state. A campaign based on a reproductive justice model can defeat both.
President Obama flinches every time support for abortion comes up in policy debates -- from the stimulus bill to healthcare reform. How can we be motivated to come out to the polls when we doubt whether our needs are his priority?
Reproductive justice is built on the foundation of human rights. The framework of "reproductive justice" requires that the most vulnerable populations be kept in the center of our lens, not at the margins.
African American women who care about reproductive justice are not fooled into thinking that the Black anti-abortion movement cares about gender justice. If they had their way, we would be re-enslaved once again, based on our fertility.
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