Reproductive justice–a term coined by Black feminists in 1994–goes beyond “reproductive rights” as the term captures the holistic justice that marginalized communities need and deserve. Reproductive justice recognizes that holistic justice is about “the right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.” Reproductive justice is important because, as Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice (ACRJ) states, “controlling a [person’s] body controls [their] life, [their] options and [their] potential- and thus, controlling [individuals] becomes a strategic pathway to regulating entire communities.”
The right to choose whether one will have a child or not or have an abortion- the right to control one’s own body and future- is a fundamental human right. The Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade in 1973 ensured that this choice is a constitutional right. When a person’s right to choose is threatened, so is our equality. There are no laws that regulate cis-gender men’s bodies, and there should therefore not be laws that regulate the bodies of women, trans and nonbinary people.
Ultimately, the regulation of marginalized trans, nonbinary, and women’s bodies is a form of social control. This social control spans the medical field’s regulation of Black women’s fertility during slavery, historical sterilization in indigenous communities, and barriers of access (including social stigma) assigned to abortion. The Supreme Court noted in 1992 that “the ability…to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.”
Reproductive justice is also about access, not just choice. People of color face raised barriers in access. As SisterSong, creators of the term “reproductive justice” write, even when abortion is legal, many women of color cannot afford or travel the hundreds of miles to access abortion. For Asian American women, who already use inexpensive and less effective contraceptive methods at higher rates than other women, insurance coverage is critical to ensuring access to effective contraception. A high number of Asian American women die from breast cancer because they lack access to healthcare. (25.5% Korean Americans and 19.8% Vietnamese Americans are uninsured, with women more likely to be uninsured than men.)
Reproductive justice is also about equal access to contraception, comprehensive sex education, STI prevention and care, alternative birth options, adequate prenatal and pregnancy care, domestic violence assistance, adequate wages to support our families, safe homes, and so much more. Marginalized folx who choose to have children deserve governmental resources and programs to support them. Trans and nonbinary folx–who face barriers from forced sterilization to discrimination in healthcare access–deserve access to trans-competent healthcare (including transition-related care; screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and breast, cervical, and prostate cancers; and contraception provision), as well as economic security and the ability to live free from violence. Everyone deserves power over their bodies, sexuality, and reproduction.
Our demands include but are not limited to:
- Protecting and preserving the right to choose and equality for all people
- Ensure free reproductive healthcare at the point of service, including safe and legal abortion, for all, regardless of immigration status
- Expand support for organizations such as Planned Parenthood
- Ban ineffective abstinence-only sex education
- Provide culturally and linguistically competent care
- Provide trans-competent care (including transition-related care; screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and breast, cervical, and prostate cancers; and contraception provision) as well as economic security and the ability to live free from violence so trans and nonbinary folx also have the “economic, social, and political power to make healthy decisions abut their bodies, sexuality, and reproduction” (See: National Women’s Law Center, National LGBTQ Task Force, National Center for Transgender Equality)
- Provide government resources so everyone, particularly low-income and people of color, can parent the children they have in safe and sustainable communities.