Group discusses reproductive justice concerns in the modern age
A group of students gathered together on Friday night to eat cupcakes, drink coffee and chat about the inequality in reproductive justice across America. The event, aptly titled “Coffee, Cupcakes, and Condoms: Conversation About Reproductive Justice,” was hosted by Brandeis Students for Reproductive Justice as part of the group’s ’DEIS Impact event.
Club president Lexi Oullette ’18 began by asking attendees what reproductive justice — which according to Berkeley Law School is the “complete … well-being of women and girls, based on the full achievement and protection of women’s human rights” — means to them. One audience member stated that reproductive justice transcends birth control affordability and ready access to abortions and occurs when “all vagina owners are getting what they deserve.”
Oullette agreed, underscoring that having reproductive rights does not always mean having reproductive justice.
Another audience member stated that “reproductive justice is about the power of choice … — how we interact with one another, i.e. slut shaming.” She then clarified that reproductive justice should also include freedom from judgment for sexual preferences or body autonomy.
Oullette then transitioned the conversation to discussing inequality of access to resources, stating that “policy does not serve all populations,” so states with only one Planned Parenthood are not providing equal access to their population.
She continued, discussing how her own personal experience has affected her thoughts on reproductive justice, noting that the term “reproductive justice” was created by women of color to describe the lack of access to reproductive rights, even decades after Roe v. Wade.
Audience member Aly Thomas ’18 spoke on how her experiences working with the Black Lives Matter movement helped shape her views of reproductive justice, arguing that the term should extend after conception or birth, as black women should be “able to have children and know that their children aren’t going to be killed.”
Oullette agreed, noting that “reproductive justice doesn’t end with a fetus” and that “people don’t want to legalize abortion, but they don’t want to pay for you to have a child.”
Ari Keigan ’18, BSRJ’s current events coordinator, then discussed the importance of allyship in reproductive justice and how to ensure allied efforts are actually benefiting the movement.
An audience member noted that allyship — especially in race-related causes — should mean “to not be afraid to be wrong and to not be afraid to be called racist.”
BSRJ Co-Community Service Coordinator Hannah Brock ’19 also spoke about shifting the focus from allies to underserved populations. “It’s very important to recognize that it isn’t about you,” Brock said. “If you’re coming from a place of guilt … that’s just a very selfish way to go about it.”
The audience members also discussed the term “ally” itself, and how it stems from a political definition, which implies that one ally has just as much at stake as the other.
Before the event’s end, the attendees briefly discussed how intersectionality plays a large role in reproductive justice, with many different communities facing a lack of reproductive resources and rights.
“Not all vagina owners are women, and not all women own vaginas,” one attendee pointed out.