Reproductive justice is a rights-based framework and an intersectional feminist activist movement bringing together reproductive rights and social justice, which was developed in 1994 by women of colour in the USA. Those women saw that existing movements focusing on abortion rights and individual choice were insufficient to address the full range of reproductive experiences and needs faced by marginalised communities. They saw a need for a new framework that understood and addressed the intersecting systems of oppression that limited their access to reproductive rights.
The SisterSong collective, which was central to the development of the Reproductive Justice movement and remains at the forefront of thinking and action in this area, defines reproductive justice as being centred on four core human rights:
- The right to maintain personal bodily autonomy
- The right to have children
- The right to not have children
- The right to parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities
At Birth Companions, we believe the reproductive justice framework speaks to our core values. Our work to improve the lives and outcomes of pregnant women, mothers and infants facing inequality and disadvantage is underpinned by the belief that interconnected systems of oppression negatively impact women’s reproductive lives and experiences of motherhood. We see how racism, poverty, housing and food insecurity, health inequalities, hostile immigration policies, and the climate and biodiversity emergencies all intersect to undermine women’s access to “self-determined family creation” (SisterSong), and impact marginalised communities most significantly.
Birth Companions hopes to draw on, learn from, and contribute to the work of the Reproductive Justice movement by centring the voices of some of the most marginalised women in our society, and challenging the oppressive systems and narratives that shape their lives. We aim for our engagement with the reproductive justice framework to be respectful, collaborative and productive, and would welcome being allies to, and collaborators with, other organisations leading in this space.
If you would like to share, collaborate, or discuss ongoing work in this area, please get in touch.