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Reproductive Justice 101
Transcript of Reproductive Justice 101
as a Social Work Value
Reproductive Oppression Today
"The regulation of reproduction and exploitation of people’s bodies and labor based on race, sex, sexual orientation, class, gender, sexuality, ability, age and immigration status. "
-This definition has been adapted from Forward Together.
What is Reproductive Oppression?
The History of RJ
"RJ is a positive approach that links sexuality, health and human rights to social justice movements by placing abortion and reproductive health issues in the larger context of well-being and health of women, families and communities"
RJ is not merely a substitute for "pro-choice", "reproductive rights" or even "sexual rights"
By defining our common problem as reproductive oppression we can develop an inclusive vision based on human rights
Does away with single-issue activism
Why a new framework?
Fails to recognize the lived experiences of people of color when making choices about reproductive health and how those experiences affect access and choice.
RJ recognizes that...
*The ability of any person to determine what happens to their body is directly related to what is happening in their community
*Human rights protections/violations will determine an individual's ability to exercise self-determination, ie: Ferguson
*We must work with other social justice movements to build a new movement
Vision of RJ
We believe Reproductive Justice exists when all people have the social, political and economic power and resources to make healthy decisions about our gender, bodies, sexuality and families for our selves and our communities. Reproductive Justice aims to transform power inequities to create long-term systemic change, and therefore relies on the leadership of communities most impacted by reproductive oppression. The Reproductive Justice framework recognizes that all individuals are part of families and communities and that our strategies must lift up entire communities in order to support individuals.”
–Strong Families Movement
Reproductive Justice 101
RJ Issues In Our World
A model developed by women of color in the 1960s and 70s to address how oppression based on race, class and gender affect women.
Has been expanded to include sexual orientation, religion citizenship status, etc.
Challenges single issue organizing by addressing the multiple identities that everyone has.
These identities are not additive, but integrative
Mother of Michael Brown, Leslie McSpadden
“Black women are raising children and fearing that their children are going to be gunned down in the street. That affects their ability to parent freely,”. “That’s a real hardship for a lot of people. You have to sit down and tell your nine-year old this is how you have to interact with the police. That’s stressful.”
In April of 2015 Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam acted against the recommendations of doctors, addiction experts, reproductive health organizations and nearly every national medical association and signed a measure that allows prosecutors to charge a woman with criminal assault if she uses narcotics during her pregnancy
Reproductive Justice as a Social Work Value
Social Work's Stance
Social Work Speaks
Policy Statement on
& Reproductive Choice
Giving complete, unbiased information
Acting as a sounding board
Providing tools to help make a decision
Reading & References
Ethical Conflict and
2008 study: Akers et al. n=319
30% Believe that plan B causes abortion
49% reportedly would not provide an abortion referral if asked to
57% indicate that they believe that abortion is NOT a legitimate health procedure
24% reportedly do not know if abortion is legal in their state (abortion is currently legal in every state)
Akers, L. S., Ely, G. & Sparkes, L.D (2008). Social work attitudes toward abortion
Chris Flaherty OhD, Gretch E. Ely PhD, L. Shevawn Akers MSW, Mark Dignan PhD & Tara Bonistall Noland BASW (2012): Social Work STudent Attitudes Toward Contraception and the HPV Vaccine, Social Work in Health Care, 51:4
Reproductive Justice Briefing Book (Various Authors). Online source
Ross, Loretta (2006, updated 2011). Understanding Reproductive Justice. Online source
Baker, Anne et. al (1998, revised in 1999, 2002, 2006, 2009) Pregnancy Options Workbook
Perucci, Alissa C. (2012). Decision Assessment and Counseling in Abortion Care
Our code of ethics is “relevant to all social workers and social work students regardless of their professional function, the settings in which they work or the populations they serve"
- NASW Press, 2012
Dignity and Worth of Others
1.01 Commitment to Clients
1.02 Self Determination
1.06 Conflicts of Interest
Prohibits the furthering of the social worker’s own religious interests
Requires us to ensure access to information and resources through referrals or advocating for progressive policy regardless of personal beliefs
Requires us to be knowledgeable and informed regardless of personal beliefs
1.05 Cultural Competency and Diversity
All people Have a Right to:
Decide if and when they will have a child and the conditions under which they will give birth
Decide if they will not have a child and their options for preventing or ending a pregnancy
.Parent the children they already have with the necessary social supports in safe environments and healthy communities, and without fear of violence from individuals or the government
.Bodily Autonomy free from all forms of reproductive oppression.
Step 1 Learn and Empathize
Step 2 Open Ended Questions
Step 3 Plan for Decision Making
Kassy Podvin, MSW
Katherine Bisanz, LGSW