Reproductive justice (RJ) is a pivotal movement that supplants the language and limitations of reproductive rights. RJ’s tenets are that women have the human rights to decide if or when they’ll become pregnant, whether to carry a pregnancy to term, and to parent the children they have in safe and healthy environments. Recognizing the importance of the rights at stake when the law addresses parenting and procreation, the authors in this book re-imagine judicial opinions that address the law’s treatment of pregnancy and parenting. The cases cover topics such as forced sterilization, pregnancy discrimination, criminal penalties for women who take illegal drugs while pregnant, and state funding for abortion. Though some of the re-imagined cases come to the same conclusions as the originals, each rewritten opinion analyzes how these cases impact the most vulnerable populations, including people with disabilities, poor women, and women of color.
“American history is replete with examples of some people controlling reproduction to assert power and domination over others. During chattel slavery in the United States, slaveowners denied Black women and men the most basic forms of dignity—subjecting enslaved Black women to sexual abuse and rape at the whim of people who believed that they could own human beings as property. When pregnancies resulted from rape by slave owners or consensual relationships among slaves, enslaved women frequently watched their children taken from them and sold for profit. Control of fertility and parenting decisions too often meant self-induced abortion or infanticide because other tools were out of reach. Post-emancipation and well into the present day, the experiences of Black women and other women of color, as well as poor women and women living with disabilities, were a reminder that procreation remains a space of power and constraint. The eugenics movement in the United States led to thousands of unconsented sterilization procedures largely on women. Today, parents seek to consent to sterilization on behalf of their adult children living with disabilities. The myth of the welfare queen, always depicted as a poor Black woman with too many children, allowed states to create welfare caps that harm poor children by withholding needed financial resources from their families. States treat pregnant women and new mothers who are living with substance use disorder as criminals who need punishment, rather than sufferers who need a public health response. The federal government makes access to safe and legal abortion more difficult for poor women who are forbidden in almost all instances from using federal Medicaid dollars to pay for pregnancy terminations. It is fitting, then, that this entry into the Feminist Judgments canon focuses on procreation and parenting as sites of oppression and discrimination”–
Author: Kimberly Mutcherson
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Genre: Health & Fitness / Women’s Health
Date Published: 2020-04-16
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