Not “reproductive rights,” but reproductive justice

1444035440ReproALL_2011666Read this very-good essay from Dorothy Roberts at Dissent. It includes:

The language of choice has proved useless for claiming public resources that most women need in order to maintain control over their bodies and their lives. Indeed, giving women “choices” has eroded the argument for state support, because women without sufficient resources are simply held responsible for making “bad” choices. The reproductive rights movement was set on this losing trajectory immediately after Roe v. Wade, when mainstream organizations failed to make funding for abortion and opposition to coercive birth control policies central aspects of their agenda. There was no sustained major effort to block the Hyde Amendment, which has been attached to annual appropriations bills since 1976 and excludes most abortions from Medicaid funding. Mainstream reproductive rights organizations practically ignored the explosion of government policies in the 1990s, such as welfare “family caps” and prosecution for using drugs while pregnant, principally aimed at punishing childbearing by black women who received public assistance. This myopia not only alienated women of color, but also failed to address the connection between criminalization of pregnant women and abortion rights. Today, a resurgence of prosecutions for crimes against a fetus makes crystal clear a unified right-wing campaign to regulate pregnant women—whether these women plan to carry their pregnancies to term or not. There is little to distinguish criminal charges against women for “feticide” and for abortions.

And thanks, Leftover, for the link.

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  1. “[R]eproductive justice,” a framework that includes not only a woman’s right not to have a child, but also the right to have children and to raise them with dignity in safe, healthy, and supportive environments.
    Dorothy Roberts

    The exchange between Dorothy Roberts and Katha Pollitt, (whose essay is linked to in the Roberts essay), is part of Dissent Magazine’s Fall 2015 issue titled Arguments on the Left, which you should be able to access in it’s entirety in PDF form here. (Don’t tell on me!) “The Left” being painted in what some might consider rather broad strokes here, “No progress occurs without contention,” says editor Michael Kazin.

    The short essays we highlight in this issue demonstrate how vital—and useful—contention can be.
    On the left, this is not a time for drawing lines in print or pixels between one’s allies and one’s enemies. But it matters a great deal how we speak to other Americans, what demands we make, and how we understand a nation that badly needs to change. And by practicing among ourselves what political theorists call “deliberative democracy,” we may provide a model for how that process ought to work in society as a whole.
    [link added]

    Another exchange that might interest you is between Susan Jacoby, Not God’s Politics:

    Religious believers—like secular Americans—have a perfect right to voice their moral convictions in public policy debates.
    …What believers do not have a right to do is enshrine their precepts as universal morality that overrides the democratic process and must be obeyed by fellow citizens—religious or nonreligious—of different beliefs.

    And Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig, Why the Left Needs Religion:

    [C]o-opting the rhetoric and symbols of Christianity was useful for American capitalists, at least for a time. the result of this unhappy marriage was the Christo-capitalism of the modern Christian right, a species of American conservatism that left a bitter taste in the mouths of leftists. But if this is all that remains of the legacy of Christian politics in America, it will be an affront both to Christianity and to leftism.

    Kudos to Dissent. The Arguments collection is very accessible, clear and concise, (for the most part), and reasonably representative of a highly factionalized, and dysfunctional, American Left.

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