Today we have a guest post from Elizabeth Miller, a board member with one of our sister abortion funds, the Eastern Massachusetts Abortion (EMA) Fund. The anniversary of the Hyde Amendment got her thinking about reproductive justice, and what it means to her. Read her thoughts below:
So, yesterday was the 36th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, the law that prevented using Medicaid to fund abortions. That law serves to make abortion accessible to people with money to pay for it, or to pay for private insurance, or in states that have chosen to use their own funds to make it doable. Essentially, the law is a penalty on poor people. Part of my reproductive justice agenda is to overturn Hyde. But the anniversary also made me think about all the other things that I want when it comes to repro justice. A partial list (spoiler alert: most of them are really about ending capitalism):
- I want people to never have to choose to have an abortion because they can’t afford another child. I want people to have their needs met enough that questions of economics can be separate from questions of family raising.
- I want people to never have to choose to have an abortion because of disablism. This goes both ways: I want kids with disabilities and their parents to be supported enough that it isn’t a question of resources when it comes to raising kids with disabilities, and I want parents with disabilities to be supported enough that they know that they can parent well and thoroughly and that they will have a support network around them, whatever that needs to look like.
- I want people to not be excluded from foster parenting and adopting based on disablist and classist criteria. I want rules like “People with certain mental illnesses cannot be foster parents” to be eliminated and I want actual reviews of actual people when it comes to parenting.
- I want state services (if we have to have a state) to get people the supports that they need to parent and resources around addiction, instead of often racist and classist removal of kids from their homes. I also want clear and thorough and trained and resourced abuse screenings/screeners.
- I want teen parents to be supported with whatever resources they need to live the lives they want and to raise their children with the networks they need.
- I want an end to forced and coercive sterilization. This includes, for me, figuring out wtf to do with our legal guardianship system where people can speak for others (kids, adults with disabilities) and sterilize them. It also includes coercive rules around welfare, and pressure to get IUDs after abortions, and racism in our health care system that pressures women of color to be sterilized, and laws about trans people’s reproductive capacity in relation to legal status, and over-economically-incentivized clinical trials for sterilization and long-term birth control, and undisclosed clinical trials.
- I want people to be able to choose abortion freely, without needing to take economics into account, without having to wait/wade through roadblocks, without the number of weeks gestation playing into what they can do, without needing to travel hundreds of miles to the nearest clinic.
- I want people to have full (comprehensive, sex-positive, body-positive) sexual health information, full information and training and expectations around consent, full access to reproductive and physical and psychiatric health care, full access to both hormonal and barrier methods of birth control (oh, and the copper IUD if they want it).
- I want an end to rape, to coercion, to sexual abuse and assault, to street harassment, to misogyny, to heteropatriarchy, to racism, to disablism, to capitalism and the view of sexuality as an exchange. I want an end to non-consensual power dynamics. I want an end to domestic violence. I want people to be able to freely make decisions about their bodies and their sexualities.
- I want the end to nations and borders. Failing that, I want having kids to not be impacted by nationhood or citizenship. I want kids to be able to get educated, I want preventative and ongoing health care for all people, I want families to be able to access supports and services regardless of whether or not they have documentation or citizenship status.
- I want enough resources put into AIDS and other STIs that we actually fix that shit. No more super-gonorrhea.
- I want people to make their own decisions about how they want to birth children, what interventions they want used, and how they want to raise their children. I want those decisions to be supported with physical and economic resources as needed. I want people to be able to make these decisions with full information about how their bodies, health statuses, etc., can be supported in each context.
- I want us to look at parenting outside of heteropatriarchy. I want us to figure out how to talk about misogyny and how that impacts reproduction and parenting, but I want us to do it in a way that is trans*-inclusive and doesn’t reduce people to language that they wouldn’t use.
- I want everyone to have access to anti-racist and culturally-oriented/specific/sensitive health care and education, throughout their lives. I want a culture that values the contributions and work of people of color, particularly women of color, and that centers their concerns, needs, and voices.
- I want people to be able to decide what is important to them around reproduction, families, and children, and be able to easily and consistently access the resources to make those things happen.
I am sure there is more! What am I missing?
Thanks to Elizabeth for sharing her reproductive justice agenda with us, and reminding us of the importance of recognizing people’s unique ideas and perspectives when we talk about the work we do. Any advocate can tell you that reproductive justice is not as simple as a bumper-sticker slogan. Reproductive justice is anchored in the complex intersections of race, class, gender, sex, and hundreds of other things. It represents not just access to a medical procedure, but a far deeper imperative for women—indeed, all people—to have control over their bodies and their lives. We applaud Elizabeth’s work to define her own activism and push for justice that is true to it.
We also think Elizabeth is right: there must be more to say! What’s on your own reproductive rights agenda?