Excerpt: Fighting for reproductive justice

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

by Nina Jacinto

Denise Oliver Velez contributes this fierce piece to Daily Kos about the reproductive justice movement and why it matters so much:

"The poor have always been stigmatized for having children. How many times have I heard snide remarks about "those people" with "too many children"? How many women of color have been stigmatized as "unwed mothers," "baby mommas" or "female heads of households"? Having children, or more than two of them, is reserved as a privilege for the upper classes.

Not only is it deemed unacceptable to have more than two kids if you are poor, our society works to make any other choices untenable—adequate, affordable housing for low-income families is almost nil. Try to find a four or five bedroom apartment if you are not well off. Affordable day care is another barrier. Feeding a family healthy food in low income areas is almost impossible. The whole issue of reproduction goes beyond ovaries and abortion. Yes, those are part of the picture, and women on Medicaid had to pay the price for having abortion limited first—with Hyde—and no major outcry happened at the time. Repealing Hyde still really hasn't become part of the majority left's agenda.

In activist communities of color, we understood this issue of reproductive justice as a broader one, including food, clothing, shelter, the environment, health care, jobs with decent pay and day care.

But legislators and majority women's groups did not. Instead we wound up with Welfare to Work and other programs designed to adversely affect our mothers, children and families.

While many people believe that the movement to secure reproductive control or "choice" for women centers solely on abortion rights, for many women of color abortion was not the only, or primary, focus."

Read the entire piece here.