Young: Call it reproductive justice
May 3, 2013
Harold Lloyd had nothing on today's forces of regression.
In iconic black-and-white on a silent screen, the bumbling comic grappled with the big hand of a clock. The year was 1923.
Today, in Arkansas, North Dakota and wherever they can summon the votes, political forces seek to turn the hands of time back at least that far on reproductive rights.
President Obama observed this syndrome last week in a speech to Planned Parenthood. Points to you, Mr. President. However, you need to follow up that "turn back the clock" analogy with one for those of us on the side of modern times.
It's time to turn the clock forward — to 2013. Let's stop living in 1973.
That was when Roe vs. Wade became the law of the land and women no longer were at the mercy of people who made Bible verses statutory.
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The time is right to move forward, not just because of the threat pervasive in certain states, but because the 2012 elections carried an encouraging message that should be translated in a new rallying phrase: reproductive justice.
The term comes from African-American feminists in the 1990s who, according to Time magazine's Kate Pickert, "wanted to broaden the appeal of reproductive rights" beyond simply keeping abortion legal and accessible. Increasingly it is being adopted as an alternative to "pro-choice."
Simply put: Unwanted pregnancies are a principal harbinger of poverty and distress. Abortion is an option for which no one wishes, but is something a majority of Americans wouldn't foreclose by law.
Reproductive justice is about exactly that. It's about "choice," but in a broader sense
The anti-choice movement not only seeks to ban abortion but to blunt policies that promote holistic women's health, including birth control.
Observe legislation in Texas that diverted millions of dollars from family planning. Bill sponsor Randy Weber, R-Pearland, cited "research" showing that women who used contraceptives had higher rates of abortions than those who didn't. In fact, the study he cited showed just the opposite.
Ah, what the heck. Facts be damned, and those who use them as well.
For those who consider themselves pro-choice, this is the kind of policy debate they should be winning, because the nation is receptive.
The other side wants to focus on abortion. The side supporting reproductive justice focuses on prevention through contraception and sex education.
To stand for the latter, Obama was the first sitting president to take a dais before Planned Parenthood, the one entity that does more than any other to help low-income women prevent unwanted pregnancies.
The forces of regression in recent weeks have sought to score propaganda points in light of the horrors associated with Philadelphia abortion provider Kermit Gosnell, facing a murder rap for illegal late-term abortions and literal infanticide.
Prosecuting Kermit Gosnell is a matter of reproductive justice. The last thing most Americans should want is for women to be so desperate again as to turn to people like him when abortion can be early and safe, and pregnancy can be averted so many ways.
The next time you encounter an abortion foe picketing a Planned Parenthood clinic, ask that person. "So, you oppose birth control, eh? Congratulations. You are part of the problem."
The next time someone brings up the case of Kermit Gosnell, ask: "So, do you oppose agencies that provide birth control? Congratulations. You are Dr. Gosnell's accessory."
Reproductive justice. Preach it. Pursue it.
Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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