Thirty-seven years ago today (Jan. 22, 1973), women in the U.S. were granted the right to ask for and receive abortions from trained medical professionals. This decision set off decades of protests by pro-life activists which occasionally have turned violent. (In a strange coincidence, the trial of Scott Roeder, who was arrested for murdering Dr. George Tiller, also begins today.)
While stalemate debates over abortion ethics continue, a promising series of side movements have emerged in recent years that help to contextualize the issue of abortion within a larger framework of reproductive, sexual, and social justice. An example of how this shift can occur is provided by Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice, a grassroots community organization based in Oakland, California.
The graph below demonstrates how ACRJ conceptualizes reproductive oppression and reproductive justice, and how to build a reproductive justice movement:
The following two graphs illustrate how ACRJ conceptualizes the connections between social justice and reproductive justice. Note how the lower circle (which shows ACRJ’s work) also includes principles of sexual justice (although this is unnamed, and in my opinion could and should be more clearly articulated):
We at Sexuality & Society applaud the work of ACRJ; their leadership in modeling reproduction and sexuality within much larger frameworks of social justice is an inspiration to critical sexuality scholars, practitioners, and activists. Happy anniversary, Roe v. Wade.
- Melling, Louse, Director, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. (Jan. 21, 2010.) “Reflections on a Decade of Reproductive Freedom.” This article includes discussion of: the Global Gag Rule, Abstinence-only sex ed, anti-choice ballot measures, early abortion pill, and emergency contraception.