As many in the U.S. debate the potential consequences of Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination for Supreme Court Justice, we are reminded that this moment in history is not about pro-choice or anti-abortion but a moment for human rights through the lens of reproductive justice.
In Reproductive Justice: An Introduction Loretta Ross and Rickie Solinger share the reasons for why they wrote this “primer” on reproductive justice:
“We chose to write this book in the form of a primer because it is an explanation of the basic elements of our subject. Reproductive Justice: An Introduction offers an expansive explanation of reproductive justice so that readers can learn about this creative vision for achieving human rights protections. The primer will also help readers understand how reproductive justice is significantly different from the pro-choice/anti-abortion debates that have dominated the headlines and mainstream political conflict for so long.”
And while many may still consider reproductive rights solely an issue that affects women, Ross and Solinger remind us that reproductive justice is one that affects an entire community and all of its members:
We cannot understand these experiences of fertility and reproduction and maternity separate from our understanding of the community—the social context—in which they occur. When we assess the extent to which a group of fertile and pregnant persons are reproductively healthy and the degree of this group’s access to affordable reproductive health services, we can understand the relationship between health, health care, poverty, community empowerment, and the experiences of individuals. We can see the connection between reproductive health and well-being and the right to be a mother or a parent. We can see how the economic and cultural health of the community structures the degree of safety and dignity available to fertile and reproducing persons. These perspectives demonstrate the limits of the marketplace concept of free, unimpeded individual “choice” and turn us toward a human rights analysis.
Read Chapter 1 and share it in your courses on women’s studies, gender studies, women’s rights, human rights, reproductive rights, and more.
And hear more from historian Rickie Solinger in an interview with KALW on how race is at the center of reproductive politics: “If women can no longer access abortion legally, and if they can’t access contraception, it’s going to impact different groups of women differently.”