What is

Reproductive Justice is the term describing the human right to autonomy of choice on making a family, and the right to raise your family in a healthy, safe community.

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Loretta Ross

Loretta Ross, formerly with SisterSong, debuted the term in 1994 after the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo.

Photo: Loretta Ross speaking at the 2016 Take Root Conference in Norman, OK.

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CORE PRINCIPLES OF Reproductive justice

SisterSong’s three core reproductive justice principles - developed since their founding in 1997 - reflect the theory and practice they collectively learned and shared. They believe that every individual has the human right to:

  • Decide if and when they will have a baby and the conditions under which they will give birth.

  • 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

  • Decide if they will not have a baby and their options for preventing or ending a pregnancy.

Reproductive justice takes 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 the well-being and health of women, families, and communities because reproductive justice seamlessly integrates those individual and group human rights particularly important to marginalized communities. RJ addresses:

  • Population control

  • Bodily self-determination

  • Immigrants rights

  • Economic justice

  • Environmental justice

  • Criminal justice

  • Sovereignty and militarism

These issues limit individual human rights because of group or community oppressions.  Reproductive justice does not replace other language used by our movement, but invites us to examine reproductive issues through the women’s human rights framework.

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The term intersectionality (or intersectional theory) was created in 1989 by American civil rights advocate and scholar of critical race theory Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw.

Intersectionality is the study of overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of power and privilege, oppression, domination, or discrimination. Intersectionality is the idea that multiple identities intersect to create a whole that is different from the component identities.

Identities that can intersect include gender, race, social class, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, age, mental disability, physical disability, mental illness, and physical illness as well as others.

We see and acknowledge that this is an integral concept to the reproductive justice framework that must be included in analyses of reproductive justice issues.

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