Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What is Reproductive Justice? Hell if I know, but I'm working on it...

So, I'm kinda psyched about attending the Bi-Annual Reproductive Justice Conference at Hampshire College. Why? Well, duh. I have a MA in Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies. Thus, reproductive justice is close to my heart. But reproductive justice should be close to all of our hearts. Again, why? Well, because it affects us all.

By nature of being human, we have the right to be autonomous--or as autonomous as possible without trespassing on another's autonomy. We have a right to make decisions for ourselves using our own God-given ability to make just and moral decisions. We certainly have this right when it comes to what we do and do not do to our own bodies. Part of being autonomous means that other people need not agree with us in order to exercise it. Quite the contrary: even when people do not agree with or understand what we do (which is certainly inevitable), we still have the right to do it.

While most people would agree with the above paragraph, some (although fortunately not the majority) have a problem only when applied to women-- or more particularly, to women's uteruses. Hence the Great Abortion Debate.

I'm refuse to spend tons of time discussing this topic (abortion) because, frankly, it's were rational people become irrational I don't see the point. The discourse is too loaded to have a proper discussion around abortion outside of a solid reproductive justice framework. So, what is reproductive justice? I'm currently working this out right now, for both professional and personal reasons, but here is my conceptualization so far:

1. Reproductive justice is intersectional--meaning that it approaches those issues surrounding reproduction from all angles and is able to imagine how needs and concerns vary with identity.

2. Reproductive justice is broad--along the lines of number one, it acknowledges and gives appropriate weight to all reproductive concerns, not just abortion. It means contraception and quality, accessible reproductive health care. It means maternal wellness and parent-friendly workplaces. It means choosing when and how to parent with dignity and it also means choosing not parent at all, without stigma. Etc... It is physical, environmental, economic, political, academic, social, spiritual, etc...

3. Reproductive justice is social justice--as opposed to being a "women's issue" the effects of reproductive injustice damage all people and it is the responsibility of all people to care about reproductive justice. Moreover, looking at the issue itself intersectionally, reproductive justice is tied to justice in general, both philosophically and practically.


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