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Reproductive Justice

Page history last edited by Crystal Baez 2 years, 2 months ago



 Despite many efforts of previous individuals to reach equality, the umbrella term of reproductive justice had to be created as these once unthinkable changes are taking place for the overall advancement of society. Tradition’s embrace affects many, limiting the ideas and actions of the people to reject modernity of the changing times; as times change in society so should rules and regulations whilst remaining true to the basic foundation in which this country was founded upon. Similar to how organizations represent many people, it is crucial to have a civil conversation upholding the equality between the sexes, understanding of the unchangeable biology and maintain a middle ground to perpetuate the funding and support of born rights of the female body as well as their families. In spite of swaying from the original goal and description of reproductive justice, the term still encompasses the dire need to uphold the natural rights of every single individual within the United States.


Reproductive Justice


Starting in 1994, reproductive justice had gained momentum in the public eye by the group, Women of African Descent for Reproductive Justice (Anonymous). The group laid the foundation for the reproductive rights movement and their principles; in which three core principles were created. The first being, a woman has the right to decide the conditions in which to give birth. This allows any woman to fulfill any sort of personal choice in how the child is brought into this world. Second, the fundamental understanding of whether or not a woman chooses to become a mother. This right derives from the fundamental biological way that life can only be brought into this world via the female body; furthering this idea by giving the power of individuality to the female of the basic choice. Third describes a woman’s right to post-birth conditions exercising the selfless and natural maternal desire to allow their children to be raised in safe, supportive and violence-free communities. Understanding these three basic principles are crucial in the understanding of reproductive justice from the early-to-mid 90’s spanning to today and beyond. Considering reproductive justice is an incredibly vague umbrella term, it is very easy to include many feminine concerns in order to guarantee the perpetual equality of the sexes. Examples of this include hot topics such as abortion, government legislation, contraceptives and the spread of STD’s; these topics also lead to the lesser talked-on issues such as the many injustices on the basis of the act of sexual intercourse and maternity. Despite many efforts of previous individuals to reach equality, the umbrella term of reproductive justice had to be created as these once unthinkable changes are taking place for the overall advancement of society. The introduction of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, was a stepping stone in the widespread leveling of barriers in the sexes, predominantly women (U.S. Const. art. 19).


Contraceptives and Controversy


A woman’s fundamental choice of whether she wants to have a child or not should not be infringed upon. This fundamental principle of reproductive justice inherently allows a woman fair access to contraceptives as a means to prevent pregnancy from occurring. Contraceptives are defined as any sort of means to limit or avoid pregnancy or the spread of sexually transmitted infections an diseases. The nature of contraceptives can range from physical barriers between contact or bodily fluids to drugs to mitigate the fertilization of female eggs. As natural reproduction is normal, some may choose to indulge in the act without the responsibility of following through a pregnancy. Preventing this from the source is largely noted to be crucial as it empowers the woman to their individual choice of pregnancy. The general consensus of many oppose this idea for women as it is commonly referenced as a means to go against God's will. The use of church creates a divide in society between tradition and modernity which plays with the fundamental beliefs of people, commonly shaping the ways of individuals to conform. Catholics bishops in the Philippines had a conference discussing the matter of contraceptives and its use which firmly stated the church “will deny baptism, communion, confirmation, weddings or burials to anyone who supports or uses contraception” (Ruether). Tradition’s embrace affects many, limiting the ideas and actions of the people to reject modernity of the changing times.




Beyond the direct result of reproduction in humans, risks are prevalent in the transmission of sexually transmitted infections/diseases. The lack of information provided to people, particularly those in developing nations are more prone to aiding the spread of many of these potentially deadly diseases. The opposition to the spread of this information may commonly come due to socio-economic issues faced in the regions affected. This relates heavily to the tradition vs. modernity debate that affects every aspect of everyday life. Studies commonly show that there are higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases/infections simply due to the rural and illiterate populations of the planet (Gupta). In other words, there is commonly a direct link between literacy, location and economic factors in the transmission of STD/STIs in women. Broadening up the debate of what are the root causes of transmission, many of these factors are simply due to the people around these women being blocked from being informed. This came from the church, elders or political figures from preventing information from reaching the women in need of such information. Similar to how unexposed children will tend to grow up as uneducated adults, mistakes will occur grossly making the problem more prevalent in these communities. STI/STDs, being a topic under the umbrella of reproductive justice, also extends further than the female body. These are issues that affect all living things regardless of sex and their implementation and awareness through the vector of reproductive justice primarily for women, can assist the prevention for everyone




Abortion is one of the most highly contended issues relating to reproductive justice and a woman’s individualistic rights. Its incredible debate and subjective nature, glorifies the nature of one side over the other at a woman’s fundamental right expense. So what is it about abortion that it makes it so controversial between men and women alike; how does it further affect the reproductive justice in women? First things first, abortion plays an important role as it pertains to the second and third principle of a woman’s justice on the matter. An abortion is defined plainly as a method to terminate a pregnancy. Due to the rights given to all life in the United States Constitution, major questions are formed on this debate as to when the potential child is considered a live human and subject to these rights. Currently, the point in which a fetus and/or a zygote is considered a human life and valued, is decided by each individual state. Each state will set an age in which a fetus or an important event such as heartbeat is considered a person with its own rights. In the case of this, there is a very fine line in which once crossed will result in it possibly affecting someone who is alive and depending on him/her to survive. As the second pillar states, that a woman should have access to all the options available, from contraceptives before pregnancy to after pregnancy; this includes an option of abortion.


Planned Parenthood


Planned Parenthood has been an avid supporter of a woman’s reproductive justice since as early as 1942. The organization gained popularity after the help of Albert Lasker who excelled in advertising and advocated for women’s reproductive rights. The advocacy organization has made sure to fulfill the proper three pillars of the justice to their utmost ability through the fair introduction of “birth control pill, the right to privacy extended to the use of contraception for both the married and the unmarried, and the legalization of abortion” (Rosenbaum). The unshameful access to these products and services are the foundation to the general, yet fundamental understanding of women's needs. Further from services and products, the organization also advocates for women’s rights whilst spreading awareness to the masses in the form of seminars, lobbying and many other methods. Despite being the vocal and prevalent base against planned parenthood, the woman’s essential functions of options, menstrual assistance, sexual health, and many other family planning assistance to men and women alike. Most of the opposition is simply due to the funding of abortions as a service rather than the generally accepted assistance to women issues. As some of the Planned Parenthood centers receive funds from tax revenue at a local and sometimes federal level, the general consensus of the population will not always be the same with the operations of any one organization. Similar to how organizations represent many people, it is crucial to have a civil conversation upholding the equality between the sexes, understanding of the unchangeable biology and maintain a middle ground to perpetuate the funding and support of born rights of the female body as well as their families.


Women’s March 2017

Beyond just advocacy organizations such as Planned Parenthood, there are also many social movements which serve as the direct voice representing many women. Particularly, the Women’s March in Washington in 2017, proved to be a historic moment in American history simply due to it being the largest, single-day protest in American history (Blandford, Felmlee, Matthew, and MacEachren). Originally as an event to protest against the 2016 presidential election, many women and individuals in the LGTBQIA+ community felt that president Trump, just being sworn in the previous day, would cause the end of support to Planned Parenthood, advocating women’s rights amongst other things. The social movement caused a new wave of feminism with the goal to include proper protections to previous unknown groups of people within the LGTBQIA+, whilst ensuring that the proper precautions were being taken by the new administration. In Washington DC alone, 500,000 marchers took the streets to express their opinions as well as taking the streets in many of the US’ major metropolitan areas. This wave of feminism, adopted eight sets of unity principles which aimed to target an end to violence, reproductive rights, LTBQIA+ rights, worker’s rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights and environmental justice. Providing a strong voice via a strong message echoed throughout America and stamped its history forever as a pivotal moment in these rights. Despite swaying from the original goal and description of reproductive justice, it still encompasses the dire need to uphold the natural rights of every single individual within the United States.


Health in Color


Currently, many are left under the impression that women have achieved equality under the law. A misconception critiqued heavily by Threadcraft as she argues there has never been a greater divide in “addressing these longstanding injustices required..black female reproductive health, so that their reproductive health outcomes are at the very least on par with white women” (Threadcraft). She doesn’t undermine the other races, however there is a clear message that the black woman has been constantly threatened and targeted by our [federal] government, criminal justice system, health system, etc. To understand the advantages of one race over the other and how society reacts to it, the average “Black women in the US have been more likely to be murdered than white men for decades” (Threadcraft). 

China, a modern day global superpower, is guilty of infringing on reproductive rights and justice. Around the 1950s, China introduced a “one child policy” used as a sex deterence. Each family household could consist of 3 people: two parents, one kid. This was even used by a propaganda campaign chanting “one is a good few, two is just enough, and three is over” (Settles, Sheng, Zang, and Zhao). China successfully implemented this policy as a way to limit their population which infringed on people’s rights through a government that was evidently forcing a woman to limit her ability to give birth. China took this policy seriously as they bullied women into abortions and sterilization; “Through the combination of reward, persuasion, intimidation, and coercion more than 25 million people were sterilized and the number of abortions and IUD insertions increased, resulting in a remarkable fall of birthrates from 21.1% in 1981 to 17.5% in 1984”  (Settles, Sheng, Zang, and Zhao). Recently, legislation was formally passed changing the policy from one to three.




From where we stand today, the law is taking its turn through Supreme Court hearings and decisions as well as reform to the system by states to reflect a more true reflection of what constituents want. Further, we see a divide yet an implementation of both sides as many of these rights and movements occur from state to state. The history of reproductive justice is a fair yet long battle. Today, we commonly see feminine products and contraceptives, including emergency contraceptives, in nearly every major market across America. The spread of deadly sextually transmitted diseases/infections have also decreased massively through the proper channels of information. Citing an epidemic as known as the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and how awareness from all media put a stop to it amassing to something more severe. Citing the third original pillar outlined by Women of African Descent for Reproductive Justice, advances in systems such as child support (Stretton) prove to be effective and strive forward for reproductive justice. The inclusion of newer, previously unknown groups, further pushed the boundaries of the law and the foundation of which this country was built on for every individual within the United States.



Anonymous. 2018. “REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE FOR ASIAN AMERICANS AND PACIFIC ISLANDERS: NATIONAL ASIAN PACIFIC WOMEN'S FORUM (NAPAWF).” Asian American Policy Review 28. DOI: 2188533024/fulltext/67739D040CD94A17PQ/1?accountid=13215

Blanford, Justine I., Felmlee, Diane H., Matthew, Stephen A. and Alan M. MacEachren. 2020. “The Geography of Sentiment Towards the Women's March of 2017.” PLoS ONE 15 (6). DOI: A625751189/OVIC?u=plattsbg_main&sid=bookmark-OVIC&xid=b1d9418e

Gilliam, Melissa. 2020. “Youth Reproductive Justice: Beyond Choice, Toward Health Equity.” Health Education & Behavior 47 (4). https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1090198119876309

Gupta, A. 2013. “P3.078 Prevalence of STI/STDs Among Women of Reproductive Age Group in Tribal District of North India.” Sexually Transmitted Infections 89 (1). DOI:1781717371?accountid=13215&parentSessionId=pFBGm9nRy8Oyo0GQ8F%2BXcaI%2BQn5O9YxySGBz8We37Jk%3D&pq-origsite=primo

Hughey, Matthew W. 2020. “Gender and Race in American Elections: From the Pathos of Prediction to the Power of Possibility.” Sociological Forum. https://doi.org/10.1111/socf.12609

Luna, Zakiya T. 2010. “Marching Toward Reproductive Justice: Coalitional (Re) Framing of the March for Women’s Lives.” Sociological Inquiry 80 (4). DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-682x.2010.00349.x

Price, Kimala. 2018. “Queering Reproductive Justice in the Trump Era: A Note on Political Intersectionality.” Politics & Gender 14(4). DOI:10.1017/S1743923X18000776

Rosenbaum, Lisa. 2017. “Understanding the Planned Parenthood Divide -- Albert Lasker and Women's Health.” The New England Journal of Medicine 377 (25). DOI: 1980077002?accountid=13215&parentSessionId=1GqeUacDl%2FSsdMWgXG5GEDKNo7Kf7BfkWhiqqjz2Zzk%3D&pq-origsite=primo

Ruether, Rosemary R. 2008. “Women, Reproductive Rights and the Catholic Church.” Feminist Theology 16 (2). DOI: 10.1177/0966735007085999 

Settles, Barbara H., Sheng, Xuewen, Zang, Yuan, and Jia Zhao. 2002. “The one-child policy and its impact on Chinese families.” Handbook of Families in Chinese Societies. DOI: f22b18aa8dd279ef75ccf36fe16b8bf4/one-child-policy-in-china-family-impact.pdf

Stretton, D. 2008. “Critical notice-Defending life: a moral and legal case against abortion choice by Francis J Beckwith.” Journal of Medical Ethics 34 (11). DOI: 1781073436?accountid=13215&parentSessionId=K6Yz2N7HqwafYOIKXdDjlWk7s5qxWkWB4hECsNvbtlU%3D&pq-origsite=primo

Threadcraft, Shatema. 2016. Intimate Justice the Black Female Body and the Body Politic. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 

U.S. Const. art. 19



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