Disclaimer: I am not a professional! If you want to find a professional sex educator please look at http://fuckyeahsexeducation.tumblr.com/Resources. If you have any questions, feel free to ask on my ask site: http://fyseq.tumblr.com/ask, though check out http://fuckyeahsexeducation.tumblr.com/FAQ!
How to Speak on Reproductive Justice
I recently attended a workshop hosted by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland on how to speak about reproductive justice as an advocate. The first part of that workshop focused on what exactly constitutes reproductive justice and that it’s so much more than the availability of abortions. The second part was actually talking about abortion. The workshop is based on the information gathered by Planned Parenthood in a study that took several years on attitudes towards abortion and how language affects it. Following the layout of the workshop, the first part of this post will cover various aspects of reproductive justice and the second will cover how to speak on reproductive justice.
What is included under the term “Reproductive Justice”?
- Safe and legal abortions available to all who need
- Affordable and available birth control and contraceptive options
- Affordable and available health care (pap smears, mammograms etc.)
- Affordable and Available resources to help under-privileged families
- No forced sterilizations
- Comprehensive sex education
- Affordable and Available sterilization options
- Adoption regulations (no child taken from healthy family, no child without a home)
- Adoption options available for any who want to adopt
- No genital mutilation
- Affordable and available transition options for Trans* folk
- No forced pregnancy or forced abortion
- And much more
It’s important that we look at the intersections of oppression. All oppressed groups based on race, orientation, gender identity, intersex conditions, ability, financial status, designated sex are oppressed in this category and we need to look at how their general oppression affects this. It’s important we look at the underlining cause of these reproductive oppressions, which is racism, sexism, cisexism, heterosexism, and many more. Certain racial, orientation, gender identity, ability, and intersex conditions are sterilized against their will. Health options are limited for people of certain financial status, ability, condition, orientation, or gender identity. Comprehensive sex education is even more difficult to find when you’re not straight, cis gender, dyadic, able-bodied, and neurotypical. People of certain orientations or gender identities may be unable to adopt. Children of certain abilities, races, gender identity, or orientation may be more unlikely to be adopted. Many children of different races are taken away from their countries, communities, and loving families in amoral adoption practices. This occurs even today in the United States, with Native American children being taken away from their families and adopted off to white adults.
Try to think of other ways that someone may be oppressed as it relates to reproductive health.
How to speak on Reproductive Justice
The Planned Parenthood website Not In Her Shoes, although gendering and not inclusive to trans* people is a good resource to check out what information and statistics they have gathered in their studies.
It starts with the words “Pro-Choice” and “Pro-Life”. I have definitely seen in my discussion on reproductive justice and the abortion issue that many people I would identify as pro-choice, those who support keeping abortion legal, don’t identify as such and this can create problems. Instead of sticking to these outdated (and in the case of pro-life, plain incorrect) labels that cause people to have an immediate negative response, Planned Parenthood suggests that we say we are pro reproductive justice, and that we want abortions to be legal and safe. The number of people who say abortion should remain legal and safe are much higher than those who would identify as pro-choice, by changing our language we open up our community to more people and gather more supporters. Two Thirds of American Voters want abortion to remain legal, whereas nearly one third of voters do not identify as either pro-choice or pro-life. By using this language we are excluding one third of our supporters.
Another thing that they found was that although people aren’t really comfortable talking about abortion, they do support it as a personal decision. People respond favorably to statements like, “Abortion is a deeply personal and often complex decision for a person, and I don’t believe you can make that decision for someone else.”, “A person should have accurate information about all of their options. Information should support a person, help them make a decision for themselves, and enable them to take care of their health and well-being.”, and “Information should not be provided with the intent of coercing, shaming, or judging a person.” These are good to bring up when we talk about legal limits being put on abortion.
Another thing that they found that surprised me is that it works well if you don’t describe possible situations. Something I and many people who talk about reproductive justice is to try to talk about different situations a person may come from who needs abortion. We think that this helps show the diversity of people who need abortions, and show that it could be anyone. In reality, what the find is that what we think are good reasons for an abortion may not be someone else’s. They may have a direct negative emotional response that closes their ears off to what you are saying. What the research showed was that 79% of likely american voters found this simple statement convincing, “We’re not in their shoes. It’s just not that simple.” It is important to recognize that anyone of any background may someday need or want an abortion, but it is better and less judgmental to just state that everyone’s situation is different.
It’s also important, Planned Parenthood found, to avoid using language like “unintended pregnancy”, “unplanned pregnancy”, and “unwanted pregnancy”. When talking about abortion, more people responded more favorably when just using the word abortion, ending a pregnancy, or a safe and legal procedure, when talking about abortion. When talking about the goal to reduce “unintended pregnancy” with birth control or sex education it’s okay to use that word, but not unplanned and especially not unwanted. Many unintended pregnancies are wanted, I’ve definitely had friends that were “accidents” that their parents wanted very much. People also tend to not respond to the concept that you have to plan a pregnancy, so unintended works best. “Safe and Legal” is also what more people responded to as a good goal. “Safe, Legal, and on demand” may turn off people who may consider themselves more pro-life, while “Safe, Legal, and rare” may turn off people who consider themselves more pro-choice.
Something that really hit me in a strong way was this statement that was used in the workshop, “People don’t turn to politicians for advice about mammograms, prenatal care, or cancer treatments. Politicians should not be involved in a person’s personal medical decisions.” This is the bottom line, a person should be making this decision with her doctor, her loved ones, and her own faith. Politicians are not medical experts and have no place in discussing a medical procedure.
A similar message that I thought was important to address was that of when life begins. What they suggested to say about that is that “Questions about life are deeply personal and it’s not simple. It can be cultural, religious, or scientific. All I know is Politicians are not experts.” Many cultures believe that the baby is alive until it is born, takes it’s first breath, or even for several weeks or month after it is born. Different religions have different definitions of life, and as for science it still depends on the person.
For me there were a couple of things I’d like to touch on when talking about language and reproductive justice. For me a lot of this issue comes down to consent. Consent to medical procedures, consent to having children, and yes consent to sex. It’s also about having the education and ability to have informed consent.
It’s also important for me to remain inclusive to trans* people while also acknowledging the sexism in legislation that restricts reproductive rights. Like we touched on earlier, a lot of restrictions come down to the intention of oppressing certain groups. To keep people from thriving as much as others, whether that means refusing gender transition, making them care for a child instead of going to college, never finding a family, or to never be able to have a child. A lot of this does stem from sexism, and it is important to realize it even though more than just women are affected. You can use inclusive language that acknowledges more than just women get abortions or need birth control while still being conscious of the fact that regulations are being used in an attempt to control and oppress women.
What are your thoughts? How will this help you frame the way you think and speak about reproductive justice and justice in general?
If any of my followers live in the Northwest Arkansas Area, we are going to have a rally at 5pm this coming Monday at the Wilson Park Pavilion in Fayetteville to show our support for the Affordable Care Act.
Planned Parenthood and other health organizations are going to be there to talk about how the ACA can help you. In reproductive rights, it helps make birth control and preventative screenings like Pap Smears and Mammograms more affordable and in many cases free. It also makes it easier for people with pre-existing conditions to get health care and it makes medicaid more available.
Unfortunately there is a lot of myths being spread about the ACA and there is a lot of backlash. This rally is in response to an anti-ACA rally taking place the same day.
Help show our representatives how important the ACA is to us and show up! I’ll see you there!
Free Public Health Courses
I found this collection of free, online Public Health courses by well-known universities, such as John Hopkins University, Duke University, University of California, University of Toronto and many more.
The courses can be accessed through the Coursera catalog and are between 4 - 8 weeks long. Courses among the health categorie include:
- Community Change in Public Health
- Principles of Obesity Economics
- Health Care Innovation and Entrepreneurship
- Health Informatics in the Cloud
- The Social Context of Mental Health and Illness
- Critical Thinking in Global Challenges
Free education rocks, enjoy it.
I’m taking a few of these courses, Community Change in Public Health, Principles of Public Health, The Social Context of Mental Health and Illness, and a lot of others. I’ve taken a few courses with Coursera already (and talked about it here a lot all ready) and could not promote it enough! It’s great.
I really need to learn more about health care systems in other countries, especially Canada and the UK as I have a lot of followers from there. Does anyone have any resources, especially when it comes to more affordable health care for people who don’t make a lot of money or ways to get birth control or other contraceptives for free?
The petition is asking the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to not enact new abortion reporting requirements.
I will personally be delivering the signatures to the TX HHS commission.
These new requirements are intended to make abortion more difficult to provide and harder to access for the Texas doctors who have a legal right to provide the procedure and Texans who have a legal right to undergo it.
The new proposed rules are Department of State Health Services and HHSC’s attempts at putting into statute that which Rep. Bill Zedler’s proposed legislation could not put into law with his proposed, but failed, HB 1602 (82nd Legislature) and HB 1131 (80th Legislature), as well as the unattached Zedler amendment to SB7 in 2011.
Throughout the public comment period that opened on this matter in April, DSHS has as yet been unable or unwilling to identify any existing problems that these new requirements solve, or give any reasoning for their inception beyond admitting that they are a direct response to Bill Zedler’s personal desire to see his own anti-woman, anti-choice beliefs put into legal statute by any means necessary.
HHSC, if it adopts these new abortion reporting requirements, is subverting Texas’ critical democratic process by bending to the wishes of one individual legislator.
As you can tell from the title, this brief is very obviously gendered. However, it goes over in great detail why reproductive health care is so important to young people in the United States. Here are some highlights:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that even though young people ages 15 to 24 represent only 25 percent of the sexually experienced population, they acquire nearly half of all new sexually transmitted infections.
- Of the approximately 19 million uninsured adult women in America, about 5.3 million—28 percent—are ages 19 to 25. Women in their 20s have been among the least likely to have health insurance either because they are no longer in school; no longer eligible to stay on their parent’s insurance policy; working part-time, temporary, or low-wage jobs that do not offer health benefits; or some combination of the above.
- For many young [people], their annual visit to their obstetrician/gynecologist may be their only consistent contact with a doctor, and it is often their primary interaction with the health care system. Young [people] use gynecological visits for a range of services, from checking their blood pressure to obtaining a breast exam, from receiving traditional gynecological services such as screening for sexually transmitted infections or birth control prescriptions to being screened for depression and mental health disorders.
It’s really weird to talk about reproductive healthcare because it’s all geared towards cis people. I will need to see a “womans” doctor the rest of my life, but I’m not a woman. My girlfriend will need to continue to see a “mans” doctor, in addition to a “womans” doctor, and seeing either is dangerous for her. All of the health stuff, like about how to tell if you’re having a heart attack, is written for cis people. So how can the trans* and non binary people know? We are missing out on a lot of basic health care because it’s written for cis people. I’m so tired of it. I’m tired of hearing “men can’t be part of abortion.” EXCUSE ME. I’m a man. I have a uterus. If I get pregnant, I have a heart condition that would force me to abort. Should I have no say in my own healthcare? It also makes women like my girlfriend feel left out, because abortion is an issue for “women only” because “all women have uteri”. Well she does not, and never will. It hurts her. It’s not an issue for her because she has no uterus.