Jan 22, 2020
The progress of obtaining and maintaining women’s rights is not
linear. Reproductive rights in the United States are focused on
efforts to get and defend the legal right to abortion, and these
efforts are led by predominantly white women.
What little information is provided about women of color with
regard to reproductive rights tends to center on the abuses they
have suffered and represents only a partial history. Most of the
reproductive health organizing done by women of color in the United
States has been undocumented, unanalyzed, and unacknowledged.
They will be unpacking the book, Undivided Rights: Women of
Color Organize for Reproductive Justice, which highlights the
role of women of color in advocating for their own interests,
largely because they face very different and specific issues
regarding reproductive rights that are not faced by white
In this second part about women’s rights, Sara and Misasha are
here today to challenge the narratives!
- As regards reproductive rights, white women tend to focus on
abortion, whereas women of color tend to look at it more
- Sterilization in exchange for benefits and forced abortion are
very real experiences in the lives of women of color.
- Choice plays a big role in rights. Choice includes “the choice
to determine whether or not to have children, the choice to
terminate a pregnancy, and the ability to making informed choices
about contraceptive and reproductive technologies”, according to
book co-author, Jael Silliman.
- Choice implies options and that a woman’s right to determine
what happens to her body is legally protected. For women of color,
this ignores the fact that economic and institutional constraints
often restrict their choices.
- It’s important for health providers to have a cultural
competency, which is an understanding and respect for the cultures,
traditions, and practices of a community.
- Opposition to welfare and commitment to reduce welfare roles by
supplying free birth control services to poor women were joined in
a race and class direct social policy.
- The link between coercive birth control and racism was overtly
expressed by Louisiana judge, Leander Perez, in 1965 when he stated
that the best way to hate a black man is to hate him before he is
- Sara and Misasha provide some horrendous statistics regarding
forced sterilizations against women of color in the 20th
- Sara offers an exercise for white women to help them understand
the differences in experience.
- Stereotypes and myths: harmful and still working against women
- Cisgender white people have not recognized themselves as an
identity group because they assume their identity to be the
- Many white women organizing for reproductive rights assume that
their agenda includes all women because of their own white women
- In 2000 the Institute for Women & Ethnic Studies in New Orleans
put forth a “Reproductive Health Bill of Rights” which, in part,
reads: “All people are born free and equal with dignity and rights
set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Historically, women of color across nations, cultures, and
different religious and ethnic groups have been subject to racist
exploitation, discrimination, and abuse. Manipulative, coercive,
and punitive health policies and practices deprive women of color
of their fundamental human rights and dignity.”
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Listen to The First Part of Sara & Misasha’s Talk About
Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organize for Reproductive
Justice by Jael Silliman, Marlene Gerber Fried, Loretta Ross,
and Elena Gutierrez
Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National
Identity by Samuel P. Huntington