Reproductive Justice is Social Justice

Congressional GOP to bring a vote on a 20-Week Abortion Ban,
this Thursday (Jan 22), the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
Please read, and contact your representative.

We know Senator Hyde of the Hyde Amendment was just comfortable the knowledge that his restriction on federal funding for abortion in Medicaid would mostly affect poor women and poor women of color. He knew darn well he couldn’t stop rich women from exerting control over their own bodies, their reproductive, creative, and working lives.

And since then, we have seen reduction after cut in services, programs, and education that would support women who are raising children. On top of this, an average pay gap (77/100) that results in millions of missing dollars in women’s incomes over their lifetimes (affecting not only base income, but 410(k) contributions, and Social Security benefits as well), decades of flat salaries and income for all American workers, and an increasing slide of available jobs into the never-enough of minimum wage work.

Now, our fresh new conservative Congress wants to use the
anniversary of Roe v. Wade to introduce a 20-week abortion ban.

As readers of this blog likely know, such a prohibition would make a timely abortion nearly impossible for huge numbers of women — for reasons too many to rehearse her but which include the often delayed manner in which women discover they’re pregnant, the many difficulties in accessing care in many states (TRAP regulations, lack of facilities, ….) — the whole point of this legislation is to make the deadline so short and the path to exercising one’s own conscience so difficult that women who don’t want a (another) child will wind up having one anyway. Many of us have seen the statistical maps. Women of all kinds who live in GOP controlled states and counties have less access to health care, and specifically to reproductive health care — resulting, more direly, in increased mortality rates for women and mothers. This disadvantage increases as those counties get either poorer or more ethnically mixed, thanks to the confluence of forces I describe above.

So, this 20-week ban effectively doubles-down
on the Hyde Amendment’s nefarious effects.

Of course, these anti-choice citizens and politicians are not pro-child. They are not organizing en masse to adopt or otherwise care for these children. The child is not the point. Controlling/punishing the woman is. Katha Pollitt’s Pro does a marvelous job elaborating the evidence of this ultimate goal. (Please buy it through one of these fine independent or feminist bookstores.)

So, we have a political and economic climate that is hostile to women’s freedom and pursuit of happiness on a number of levels. It’s even a climate that makes raising healthy, educated, productive citizens really damn hard. Expand the concept of reproductive justice to include creating conditions that support women who want to be mothers — no matter their race or class — and we find ourselves at an intersection vital to social justice generally.

Women of color have understood and organized their reproductive justice activism around this intersection for a long time now. They gone in this direction partly because their relationship to a white-dominated state complicates the history of reproduction for women of color in some horrifying ways all of which result (still) in denying women control over their own fates and the well-being of their children. (The link I offer here is a gentle version of this history.) We’re still sterilizing women against their will in prisons in the US, we’re still taking Native American children from their families for the flimsiest of reasons.

I suggest we bring this fuller and
more nuanced understanding of choice and justice
to the women of the Congressional GOP and their colleagues.

Congresswoman Renee Elmers (R-NC), and a small cohort of GOP women, are rebelling against this ban on the grounds that it’s a bad PR move and will (further) alienate young women (all women) from the GOP.

I suggest that we both support Rep. Elmers, and educate her more broadly on the many dimensions of reproductive justice. These bans create only harm. They have no positive effect on the society, the economy, or the people directly affected by them. Even the “science” used to justify them is largely a sack of lies made out of false concern and overt racism and hatred of the disadvantaged.

To share this broader perspective with Rep. Elmers or your own representatives, please use this directory. It leads you to their websites, all their social media, their official emails — the whole kit and caboodle.

On this MLK Day, when we are remembering our lost warriors for social justice and still dreaming of the future in the beloved community, let’s make sure that women — all women — are free to help build that community, that polity, whether by being mothers, or by contributing their talents, energy, and intellect in a myriad of other — and vital — ways.

For women!
Dr. Simone Roberts
Web Editor / Historian / ERA Coordinator
Virginia NOW

:: Sources/Organizations in this Article ::

Amplify Your Voice
Black Women’s Health Initiative
Congressional Directory
Rep. Renee Elmers (R-NC)

Fund Abortion Now
MS. Magazine

RH Reality Check
Think Progress
Trust Black Women
The Washington Post

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Dr. Simone Roberts
    Jan 19, 2015 @ 10:39:02

    Reply

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