At our inaugural B.O.O.B. School event this week we discussed the intersectional issues surrounding the fight for reproductive justice and how to address reproductive rights in an intersectional way. The video below jump started our discussion:
For some, it’s easy to think of the Dobbs decision as the restart of a fight that was won with Roe, yet for many people in marginalized communities the fight for reproductive justice and bodily autonomy has never stopped. These communities lack access not only to abortion services, but see general deficiencies in access to reproductive and general healthcare as well. As pregnant people face increasing legal scrutiny for pregnancy outcomes, this will disproportionately affect pregnant people in these marginalized communities.
According to the Texas Maternal Morbidity Review Committee and Department of State Health Services Joint Biennial report for 2020 (revised February 2022), pregnant people in Texas face overall higher severe maternal morbidity compared to those outside of Texas. However, out of all pregnant Texans, the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) community suffers significantly greater negative maternal outcomes. A higher rate of negative pregnancy outcomes combined with the criminalization of negative pregnancy outcomes and disproportionate policing of BIPOC bodies is a recipe for disaster.
Additionally, the LGBTQ+ community, particularly transfolk who can get pregnant, face increased difficulty receiving adequate prenatal and birthing care. Our healthcare system is hostile by design to anyone outside of the heteronormative experience that training prepares physicians to encounter. This is especially true in fields such as obstetrics and gynecology.
Intersectionality and Reproductive Justice
Intersectionality is the term for the interconnected nature of social categories. People experience varying degrees of privilege depending on how their identity intersects with society. These intersections create unique dynamics and effects on the lives of people affected by systemic inequalities. Because of the complex nature of billions of differing human experiences, intersectional justice advocates argue that you cannot separate different types of discrimination because these inequalities compound on each other.
If efforts are targeted so that they reach the people facing the most structural disadvantage, then they can reach everybody. According to the Center for Intersectional Justice “It is about fighting discrimination within discrimination, tackling inequalities within inequalities, and protecting minorities within minorities.” Intersectional justice asks us to consider the minorities within our movements to make sure that no one is left behind.
A lack of reproductive justice and privacy in reproductive choices is dangerous for all of us, but in situations where a patient is already working within a hostile system the danger is even greater. In the years since Roe, these marginalized groups have not stopped working or organizing. Now that we’re all back in this fight one of the most productive things we can do is listen to the people who never stopped fighting.
But if we’re going to work with those communities we cannot leave them hanging again. Restoring Roe cannot be the only target if reproductive justice is the goal – this time we cannot decide the fight is over until everyone has reproductive justice.
Interested in learning more about reproductive justice and intersectional justice? Join us at our next B.O.O.B. School meeting! Upcoming meetings are shared through this website and our social media.