Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which debates a Texas law that essentially puts reproductive clinics out of business. In North Carolina, where I live, there have been similar legislative tactics.History matters in these times. And the personal history (or her story) of those speaking matters.
So some history...
Many years ago, I accompanied a friend to a clinic to get the morning after pill. Several years later, I joined another friend at a different reproductive clinic to get an abortion. When trying to have a child, I was grateful to have a clinic that offered care and treatment for LGBTQ families. When I had a miscarriage, I was grateful to have a knowledgeable doctor walk me through what was happening to my body. I was also grateful to have friends who didn't expect a particular emotional response. And I was even more grateful to have that doctor present when I became pregnant again and it was possible that I was carrying multiple fertilized eggs (more than 3). Again, it was a compassionate knowledgeable doctor who explained to me the process of selective reduction and the potential impact of carrying more than triplets to term.
What I think about most when I reflect on my own reproductive history and that of my close friends are the ways in which culture, economics, race, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender mapped to our overall reproductive justice. It would be impossible for me to tell my story without mentioning particular privileges that afforded me more justice as well as experiences of marginalization that changed my experience significantly.
Alongside the power map of reproductive justice, for me, is the healing or harmful role community can play. As a Unitarian Universalist, I had a theology that helped me grapple with the complexity of life. See the 2015 UUA Statement of Conscience for an articulate snapshot of Unitarian Universalist reproductive theology. I also had a community of friends and colleagues who know how to apply their theology to the complexity of living. Not once has anyone in my faith community placed the written word or the legal requirements as having higher value than my pain or my love.
Yet, I am often wearied by the arguments for reproductive rights that place a high value on choice and individual rights without any recognition of the complexity of reproductive justice. Let me be clear, I have had a largely positive reproductive history. And part of that --no most of that-- is because of the vast amount of privilege I was born with in this world.
No matter the outcome of the Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, I would hope that we could begin to widen the lens of liberation as it relates to reproductive justice. The lens of choice and individual rights is insufficient in a world where we are caught in a network of mutuality. Reproductive justice is about more than individual legal rights or a personal choice just as liberation does not exist in a silo. We are called to the complexity of reproductive justice in the multifaceted nature of oppression. It is more than a gender binary right and it certainly connects to racism and heterosexism. It demands that we listen to the margins and in the words of the 2015 UUA Statement of Conscience,