Reuters: Racism is a reproductive rights issue

Reuters: Racism is a reproductive rights issue

My column at Reuters last week was about what happens when we deny Black children a childhood: we deny Black parent their reproductive rights.

Generally speaking, Americans understand reproductive rights as being about abortion, and sometimes, about birth control. In the mainstream understanding, reproductive rights are about the right to prevent or end unwanted pregnancy. But reproductive rights are about more than pregnancy. Reproductive justice is not just a matter of making sure that women only become mothers if and when and in the manner they choose – it’s also a matter of making sure that, when they choose to bring children into the world, they don’t bring them into a world that is disproportionately dangerous for those children.

In short, racism is a reproductive rights issue.

“For one’s children to be random, unwitting blood sacrifices to the prejudice of faceless others is not freedom,” wrote Katherine Cross at RH Reality Check, in the wake of Michael Brown’s death at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. “To have reproductive freedom means, among many other things, that your choice to raise a family will not be revenged upon by collectivized prejudice wielding batons and handguns.”

This is not a new argument, but it’s one that has been denied the mainstream attention it deserves. In the wake of the Grand Jury decision that Wilson will not be indicted for killing Brown, that is changing. NARAL Prochoice America, one of the nation’s largest reproductive rights organizations, is on the record endorsing the argument that, “You deserve to parent your child without fear that he or she will be hurt or killed. Freedom from violence is reproductive justice.”

You can read the whole thing here.

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Thought Catalog: This is an article about vaginas, but not the fun kind

Thought Catalog: This is an article about vaginas, but not the fun kind

At Thought Catalog this week, I’m writing about transvaginal ultrasounds:

Transvaginal ultrasounds have been the law in Texas since late 2011, but the phrase, which rolls so trippingly off the tongue, didn’t really enter my vocabulary until other states — Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio — started trying to make the procedure mandatory for anyone seeking an abortion, in early 2012. Last year, 11 states introduced laws stating that any abortion must be preceded by an ultrasound, even if the doctor doesn’t deem that imaging medically necessary. Currently, almost a dozen states — Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin — have ultrasound laws, and because many of those laws stipulate that the image must be of a certain level of clarity, the ultrasound cannot be abdominal. The only way to get the level of detail demanded by those laws is to do an internal examination.

Like a lot of pro-choice people, I was horrified by this new trend. I wrote about it, I opined about it on TV, I raged about it to my friends over wine (I’m super fun to get a drink with, you guys). Each time, I’d say the phrase “transvaginal ultrasound,” and I’d often preface it with the word “invasive.” Invasive transvaginal ultrasound. Invasive medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasound.

I didn’t know the half of it.

You can read the whole thing here.

MSNBC: Reproductive freedom is a fight bigger than Wendy Davis

MSNBC: Reproductive freedom is a fight bigger than Wendy Davis

I have a piece at MSNBC today, about why, though State Senator Wendy Davis has emerged as the most visible figure in the Texan fight for reproductive rights, the fight is far bigger than one person:

But millions of people will be adversely affected when Texas’s new abortion restrictions kick in. The most obvious are women in need of healthcare – either to keep a pregnancy healthy, or to terminate a pregnancy they don’t want or can’t sustain. Texas will now ban abortion after 20 weeks, and while a tiny percentage of abortions happen that late, most of the ones that do are performed to save the mother’s life, or to spare her the pain of giving birth to a fetus with such severe abnormalities that it cannot survive outside the womb.

Then there are the hundreds of thousands of Texans who rely on those clinics for primary healthcare: for mammograms, pap smears, contraception, STI testing, and more. What happens when a person doesn’t have access to preventive healthcare? What happens to a populace when thousands of its citizens no longer see doctors and nurses, no longer get tested for HIV, or breast cancer?

The need for abortion is not diminished with the disappearance of clinics. In their place, expect unsafe, illegal abortion. Before Roe v Wade, illegal abortion was a leading cause of death for women of childbearing age. Sixty percent were already mothers at the time.

You can read the whole thing here.

MSNBC: Access to information is the newest front in the abortion wars

MSNBC: Access to information is the newest front in the abortion wars

I have a piece at MSNBC today, about the newest front in the abortion wars: access to information. Several states have enacted or are trying to enact laws that require doctors and teachers to straight up lie to the people who take their impartiality for granted. Ohio has passed a law that yanks funding from state-funded rape crisis centres that counsel pregnant rape survivors about abortion.

In North Carolina, public school health teachers will, in all likelihood, soon be required to lie to their students, telling them that having an abortion will endanger future pregnancies. North Carolina’s SB 132 would require schools to teach seventh graders that abortion is a “preventable cause of preterm birth” (in addition to smoking, drinking, drug use, and inadequate prenatal care). There is no medical evidence to support this claim. The World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatricians, and the American Public Health Association “have all uniformly concluded that abortion does not cause prematurity,” according to one doctor’s testimony.  North Carolina’s Republicans, however, do not seem to care about scientific facts.

In Ohio, access to information will now be restricted for rape survivors who are pregnant and facing the prospect of carrying a rapist’s child. The abortion restrictions–passed through amendments to the new state budget–make clear that no rape crisis center that receives state funding can counsel rape survivors about abortion. As I wrote here earlier, this is a gag rule reminiscent of the one the Bush administration imposed on health centers it funded in the developing world. This means that such centers are forced to choose: remain open, offering only some of the necessary information to survivors of rape, or shut and provide those people with no information or services at all. And it means that rape survivors who are pregnant as a result of rape will not be told about steps they can take to avoid carrying their rapists’ babies.

Kansas, thanks to laws passed earlier this year which have just gone into effect, will now restrict access to information for students and for patients. Doctors who perform abortions are no longer permitted to participate in sex education in public schools. They are also legally required to lie to their patients, telling those who seek abortions that after 20 weeks of gestation, fetuses can feel pain, a claim without scientific backing. Additionally, they must tell patients that “the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” Doctors are also legally required to inform their patients of a link between abortion and breast cancer–a link that the National Cancer Institute insists is non-existent.

You can read the whole thing here.

MSNBC: Celebrating freedom? In five states, the government can force a woman to give birth against her will

MSNBC: Celebrating freedom? In five states, the government can force a woman to give birth against her will

I have a piece at MSNBC today, about the five states that have implemented stringent new abortion access laws this week, a move that coincides with the celebration of America’s independence.

This week, Americans will celebrate the Declaration of Independence and recognize their nation’s growth from a rebellious colony to a fifty-state global superpower. But in five of these fifty states, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were curtailed for many people this week as their state governments enacted new restrictions on abortion access.

As Rachel Maddow noted on Monday night, there is little political action to speak of in Washington, D.C., at the moment. Right now, the action is in the states. And if you’re in a red state, it’s abortion restriction time.

In Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, and South Dakota, states in which it was already quite difficult to obtain an abortion, it just got even harder. Like Ohio, which last Sunday implemented a handful of abortion restrictions, most of these five states have erected several different kinds of roadblocks between constitutionally protected healthcare and the citizens who want to access it.

You can read the whole thing here.

MSNBC: Ohio Republicans deny women their constitutional rights

MSNBC: Ohio Republicans deny women their constitutional rights

I had a piece at MSNBC yesterday, about Ohio’s new sweeping reproductive healthcare restrictions, which make it the worst state in the country in which to seek an abortion.

What does it look like when seven men ignore seventeen thousand of their constituents?

It looks like this: Ohio’s Republican Governor John Kasich, flanked by six other men, signing the state’s new budget into law and, by doing so, catapulting the Buckeye State to the number one spot on the Nation’s Most Restrictive Abortion Laws list.

The budget strips funding from Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading provider of reproductive healthcare, and gives that money to Crisis Pregnancy Centers, the pseudo-clinics that lure pregnant women with the promise of free ultrasounds and can then misinform them about abortions. That’s just the beginning.

You can read the whole thing here.

Daily Life: Review of “The Child Catchers,” by Kathryn Joyce

Daily Life: Review of “The Child Catchers,” by Kathryn Joyce

At Daily Life today, I review the new book by Kathryn Joyce, “The Child Catchers: Adoption, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption”:

Decades after what in the USA is referred to as the “baby scoop era”, we recognise that what the Australian government did to unwed mothers and their children was reprehensible. But today, in other countries – Vietnam, for example – the practice of wresting wanted babies from mothers persists, fuelled in part by the evangelical Christian adoption movement.

That movement is the subject of a new book by Kathryn Joyce, an American journalist who has written extensively about evangelical Christians and reproductive politics. (Her previous book, Quiverfull, took a deep look inside the Christian patriarchy movement.)

In the past decade the adoption of orphans, most of them from outside of the US, has become immensely popular among American evangelicals. For many in that community, “saving” orphans kills multiple birds with one stone – Joyce calls it a “perfect storm of a cause”.

It is a way for churches to get involved in poverty and social justice issues that they had ceded years before to liberal denominations, an extension of pro-life politics, and a decisive rebuttal to the taunt that Christians should adopt all those extra children they want women to have. More quietly, it’s also a window for evangelising, as Christians get to “bring the mission field home” and pass on the gospel to a new population of children, effectively “saving them” twice.

You can read the whole thing here.