6 Steps to Reproductive Justice
You likely already know that the States has reached peak Margaret Atwood levels of cray cray. Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Louisiana have all banned abortion after 6 weeks of pregnancy - which might as well be an all-out ban, unless you’re psychic or lucky or extremely in tune with your uterus . And it’s spreading like wildfire. The all-male, all-white city council of Waskom, Texas recently declared the town a “sanctuary city for the unborn”.
If it wasn’t so disgraceful we’d be howling at the irony.
(Note: we realize abortion is a difficult topic for some, but remember, just coz you haven’t/wouldn't choose abortion for yourself, doesn't mean you should make that choice for others!)
Thing is, the States is only one of a sleuth of countries or places where abortion is already illegal or extremely difficult to access. The success of Ireland's abortion rights campaign last year (YAY! REPEALED!) was overshadowed by the very sad reality that women in Northern Ireland still can't legally obtain an abortion. In South Korea, abortion is limited to victims of rape or incest - but pregnant women still need their HUSBAND'S PERMISSION to acquire one...
Deep breaths, people. Count to ten.
There’s also Argentina, Madagascar, Poland...we could go on. But reproductive justice doesn't just mean decriminalizing abortion.
Here are some examples of what reproductive justice can look like:
1. Free birth control
Think IUDs, “the pill” (+ LOTS more!). Adequate contraception is one of the most important ways that we can have reproductive autonomy. In some countries (e.g. China, Portugal, South Africa), certain types of birth control are free or partially covered. But for low-income folks living in places with no subsidization, it can be completely unaffordable. Unfortunately, it is those very same marginalized people who suffer the most from inaccessible abortion, inadequate maternity care, expensive childcare, and little to zero paid parental leave. Which brings us to…
2. Paid parental leave!
Reproductive justice means being able to afford to raise a child in the country you call home. In New Zealand, a couple with two young children earning the average wage have to devote 37.3% of their pay to childcare. So how is a single, working person on one paycheck supposed to raise a kid? Also, “parental” leave is often (or not even) alloted to cis women*, meaning women by default become stay-at-home parents, which leaves same-sex couples or single men completely in the dark.
Gosh, this darn patriarchy.
3. Inclusive policy + terminology
Ever consider what kind of pre or postnatal care a trans man† will be able to access in your local maternity hospital? Or how about all the red tape a non-binary‡ person will have to jump over to access abortion in a facility that caters specifically to women? Most healthcare policies around reproductive health are built on the assumption that women are the only people who get pregnant, which can be isolating for a trans or non-binary person, and even exclude them from accessing healthcare entirely.
4. Affordable IVF treatment
i.e. in vitro fertilisation, AKA fertility treatment. A lot of these issues come back to affordability, and in systems where fertility treatments are reserved for the wealthy, many people can’t even consider IVF.
Meanwhile, plenty of countries have no issue shelling out millions on, say, viagra. Because god forbid cis men§ didn’t have control of their own reproducitve organs.
5. Voluntary sterilization
i.e. tubal ligation, AKA “getting your tubes tied”. Whereas many doctors offer “lunch-time vasectomies”, the very thought of a fertile woman taking charge of her reproductive future is enough to send us scrambling back to the 1920s. The general consensus in the Western medical world is that a woman can have her tubes tied if a) she’s married (to a man, duh), b) she has one boy and one girl already, and c) her husband agrees to the procedure.
Of course, it’s only white women’s fertility that’s worth protecting, right? Indigenous women in Canada have been reporting cases of forced sterilization—AS RECENTLY AS 2017. Jesus H. Christ.
6. Support for marginalized families
It’s no secret that many Western governments funnel millions of $$ into child protective services and foster care systems every year - but consider for a quick sec how much more effective that cash would be if it was dedicated to supporting the very families being affected? Particularly in North America, parents are penalized for being poor and not being able to provide for their kids, but unaffordable birth control, inaccessible healthcare, and tearing families apart are most definitely not the answer.
*A person assigned female at birth who still identifies as female.
†A person assigned female at birth who identifies as male.
‡A person who does not identify as male or female, or may identify as both.
§A person assigned male at birth who still identifies as male.
And you know we’re aaaaalllllll about the action. So here’s how you can help:
Remember these hot topics next time you get a knock on your door during campaign season. And VOTE, godammit.
Donate your time or money to your local abortion services or national services that don’t receive government funding.
Work on destigmatizing these issues with family and friends. Practice being non-judgemental about other people’s decisions to make (or not to make) babies. Talk about your own experiences and access to healthcare, and consider how that differs from others.
Do your best to use inclusive language (and policy, if you work in a clinic or space where people are seeking reproductive healthcare - check out this friggin’ awesome manual on trans-inclusive abortion services.) If you’re not sure - ask!!
Got questions? Wana share an experience? Leave us a comment below.