Reproductive Justice: It’s More Than Abortion Rights

October 21, 2022 @ 12:58 pm

As we approach the 2022 midterm elections, the country reels from the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and reproductive rights are at the forefront of many congressional races. It is vital that social workers be engaged in efforts to protect this fundamental human right. 

In these critical times, the School invites the public to join us for an important panel discussion, “Reproductive Rights: What’s at Stake?” on Thursday, October 27 from 4:00-5:00pm. This panel will share perspectives of social workers fighting in the name of reproductive justice. Speakers will also invite the audience to join them in protecting the reproductive rights for those populations most directly negatively impacted by the Court’s decision: Black and BIPOC birthing people. (Event details and registration here.)

The panel will be moderated by Associate Research Scientist Anindita Dasgupta and feature panelists Adjunct Professor Sasha Ahuja, who is National Director for Strategic Partnerships at the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Zakiya Thomas, President and CEO of the ERA Coalition/Fund for Women’s Equality. Both speakers are 2011 graduates of the School of Social Work.

“When it comes to reproductive justice, if you start at the pregnancy, you’re starting in the wrong place. You have to start with what’s going on in the person’s life before they’re pregnant.” These are the words of Loretta J. Ross, one of the Black women who coined the term reproductive justice. She is an Associate Professor for the Study of Women and Gender at Smith College and a 2022 MacArthur Fellow.

As Ross explains in her MacArthur profile video, the group discerned that a number of larger factors weighed on the decision to end or keep an unplanned pregnancy—including whether a person was secure economically and whether they experienced violence in their home or relationship.

In its original concept, reproductive justice comprised three basic rights: the right of every person to not have a child; the right to have the children they want; and the right to raise those children in an environment that is healthy and safe. Later, Ross explains, members of the LGBTQIA community added bodily autonomy, gender identity, and sexual pleasure to this bill of rights. 

Want to learn more? Read these two posts by Dr. Dasgupta: “Roe v. Wade Has Been Overturned: Here Are Five Actions to Take” and “What Overturning Roe v. Wade Would Mean.” 

And finally, if you are on campus on Wednesday, October 26, stop by the student-run Reproductive Justice Initiative Bake Sale in the Social Work lobby from 11 to 4 to grab a treat and voice your support.