Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Three Cheers for Reproductive Rights...just not for you.

This past week was the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the laws that legalized abortion on a national scale. All around mainstream pro-choice blogs, newsletters, and campus mailing lists, I saw a lot of people really excited about the anniversary...with little to no mention of all the women left out of the mainstream reproductive rights movement (i.e. immigrant women, women of color, disabled women, working-class women, women on welfare/Medicaid, women in prison, and so on). You all know the drill; nothing new, huh?

The language usually used to talk about reproductive rights is about "choices," having the "choice" to have access to an abortion or access to contraceptives. But this ignores the lack of choices a woman has when her very residence in this country is not a free choice, but a move pushed by forces like NAFTA; when her family is already below the poverty line and she can't feed another child; when she is uninsured and has to take what she can get from Medicaid, if she can even get that much; when she has already been denied autonomy over her health by rape or incest; when she is in prison (and likely unfairly so) and therefore denied abortion access in many states; or when the combination of religion and shame have denied her comprehensive sex education to even know where to begin. Calling reproductive justice a "choice" is only easy for some.

Of course, it is great how far reproductive rights have come, but no victory is worth winning if the fight isn't inclusive. So instead of merely throwing Roe a birthday party, I'm rounding up a few articles as a starting point in the reproductive justice movement outside the cozy confines of the mainstream:

* "Expand the Pro-Choice Dialogue," and anything else you might find on the SisterSong Collective's website.

* "Demanding Reproductive Justice for Latinas"

* "Latinas and Abortion Access," and anything else from the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

* Holla!, a newsletter put out by Sistas on the Rise, an activist group for teenage women of color's reproductive rights & education

* We Got Issues, from the National Asian/Pacific American Women's Forum, on the absence of API women from the reproductive health movement

* An Open Letter on the ableism buried, not too deeply, within much of the mainstream movement

* "Reproductive Rights in Theory and Practice: The Meaning of Roe v. Wade for Women in Prison"

And with that, I wish you a happy Roe v Wade week.

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