Reproductive Justice for All

Against the Current, No. 38, May/June 1992

Ron Daniels

THERE MUST BE reproductive justice for all women.

Women of color–African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American–and poor women always suffer disproportionately when reproductive rights are restricted. In 1972, the year before Roe v. Wade, 64% of all women dying from illegal abortions were Women of Color. In Georgia, 80% of women dying from illegal abortions were African Americans.

Eighty percent of all forced C-sections are performed on African-American women. Eighty percent of women who have been charged, convicted and jailed for drug use during pregnancy have been African American or Native American, despite studies showing that the rate of drug use in pregnancy is the same for European-American women as for Women of Color.

White women are referred for therapy, not jail. These are just a few of the facts illustrating the grave lack of reproductive justice for Women of Color in our country.

It should be the fundamental right of every woman:

To choose to have or not to have a child.

To choose to have or not to have an abortion.

To choose to be or not to be sterilized.

To choose to use or refuse to use contraceptive implants such as Norplant.

To choose the method of birth control she feels most comfortable with.

To have full access to information on all forms of contraception, and abortion.

To have free, quality prenatal care.

To have quality, accessible medical care for herself and her family.

To be well informed about all medical procedures recommended to be done on her body, and to be able to refuse such procedures if she chooses.

To receive non-judgmental, quality therapeutic care if she is suffering from drug addiction during pregnancy.

To be treated with dignity and respect during gynecological and obstetrical procedures no matter her circumstances.

To have free, quality daycare if she chooses to work outside the home while her children are young.

To be provided adequate economic support in a respectful and non-judgmental manner if she chooses to stay home to parent her children under five and is poor.

To be ensured of the economic means to provide a decent quality of life for her family, regardless of her economic status, job status or family size.

Women of Color are disproportionately poor. Poor women do not live like queens. Their lives are often hell. Most struggle to survive any way they can. Those who don’t struggle, don’t because
they have given up out of overwhelming despair and hopelessness. They do not choose to be poor. Theirs is the ultimate lack of choice.

Poor women and Women of Color are decent, worthwhile human beings who deserve the same dignity, respect and choices that all other women do. They are not the cause of this country’s economic and moral decay. They are not the ones that squandered hundreds of billions of dollars on corrupt S&Ls, unfair tax breaks for the super rich–that 10% who obscenely accumulate 80% of this country’s wealth–and the biggest military buildup in the history of the world.

Tell us where is the fairness in attacking the destitute for the few pennies of your tax dollar that goes to them, while the super rich, the corrupt and the military-industrial complex walk off with over half your tax dollar in order to increase their obscene share of the wealth at the expense of most of us. Where is the fairness in that?

If we are to truly be for reproductive justice, we must fight just as hard for racial and economic justice. Without racial and economic justice, there cannot be reproductive justice for all women. And no woman is free while any woman, anywhere, is oppressed.

May-June 1992, ATC 38