Merging the Pro-Choice and Faith Communities

I attended a workshop at the 2011 National Network of Abortion Funds organizing summit that addressed how to reach out to faith communities. The workshop focused specifically on Christian traditions, since there is strong support for reproductive justice within Judaism. Although Islamic beliefs were briefly discussed in the Q&A period, it was not the main focus of the discussion. As a person of faith myself, I got a lot out of the workshop and was so glad to hear different Christian perspectives on the topic of reproductive rights.

The Catholic Point of View
Meghan Smith of Catholics for Choice gave a summary of Catholic beliefs surrounding birth control and abortion. As Smith pointed out, it is important to understand the Catholic point of view because there are currently more than 68 million Catholics in the United States, and more than 1 billion Catholics globally. Although the Catholic hierarchy has stated its opposition to birth control and abortion, the majority of Catholic parishioners generally disagree with the hierarchy on reproductive rights issues. For example, a recent survey of active Catholics found that 98% of Catholic women use some form of birth control. Additionally, only 14% of Catholics believe that abortion should be illegal. Consequently, we should not confuse the voices of those who are in power as being representative of the Catholic community itself.

For Catholics, an individuals’ conscience is the ultimate arbiter on the morality of all decisions. If a woman contemplates the decision to obtain an abortion and feels that it is right for her, that is the most important thing to consider. Since Catholicism has an emphasis on improving the lives of the poor, discussions of faith and reproductive justice must include discussions of economic equality.  [Read more...]

Young People: Front & Center in the Reproductive Justice Movement

Over the course of the past few weeks, reproductive justice champions across the United States have been celebrating the anniversary of Roe v. Wade in a variety of unique and meaningful ways. On Thursday, January 20th, for example, Choice USA and Campus Progress hosted a phenomenal event that placed six young RJ champions center stage to debate the historical impact of Roe, and the future of our movement. Sticking true to the mission and values of the organization, Choice USA invited six young activists from the movement to go head to head (with words) on the issues, and offer helpful tips for moving forward.

Here are some video highlights from the event.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiVLLgTmZFc[/youtube]

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Beyond Ovaries: Is there Room for Men in the Pro-Choice Movement?

The answer is obvious for a gay-prochoice-feminist such as myself. However, it seems like it’s a bit more complicated than that. During last weeks controversial debate in Florida’s house of representatives over a staunch anti-choice ultrasound law, Democratic Representative Janet Long commented to her colleagues to, “Stand down if you don’t have ovaries.” On face, I applaud this comment. I think it’s important to recognize, especially as an arbiter of male-privilege, that women have been marginalized in traditional legal discourse on abortion rights. Not to mention the fact that women are the one’s forced to give birth to an unwanted fetus. However, I find it problematic to assume that men have no responsibility or role in advancing reproductive justice in the United States. Jacob Appel, at The Huffington Post, points to some of the consequences this alienating rhetoric can have for the pro-choice movement.

The underlying premise seems to be that since women are the ones forced to bring unwanted fetuses to term when abortion rights are curtailed, they have a greater stake in the outcome of such debates–and therefore more right to influence policy on the subject. I can sympathize with the frustration that might lead to such an outlook. At the same time, as someone without ovaries who has written and marched for reproductive freedom through my entire professional life, and who has been threatened repeatedly as a result, I fear the ongoing effort to frame the abortion debate primarily in gender terms remains both politically unwise and ethically unsound. Rather than urging men to stand down, abortion-rights advocates should reach out to convince men that they have a deep and equal stake in preserving reproductive choice. [Read more...]

Women & Environmental Justice: Drawing the Connections

Happy Earth Day everyone!!! I think it is important that on this day, and everyday for that matter, we begin to draw stronger connections between reproductive health, women’s rights, and environmental justice. In an age of climate change, ecological exploitation, and the over-consumption of resources by wealthy industrialized nations, women’s lives are more vulnerable than ever. Not only are women the most intimately impacted by the use of toxic chemicals in everyday products, they are uniquely dislocated by the negative effects of climate change, pollution and the unsustainable consumption of resources.

Current environmental policy in the United States is premised on the flawed logic of the market economy. Commodity production and the guise of infinite growth are used to justify the exploitation of the worlds resources and dispossession of millions of people from nature’s commons. The interests of transnational corporations have taken precedent over the preservation of the earth and all of its inhabitants. [Read more...]

Friday News Roundup

Here’s this week’s TGIF link love for ya!

Clinic Escort Stories – Feministing
Judge Rules Assault Victim Too Hot Not to Grope – The Sexist
Clinton on the Global Fight for Reproductive Justice – Feministing
Protesters Follow Abortion Clinic to New Location – News Journal Online
Women’s Rights Movement No More –

The Center for Reproductive Rights – Columbia Law School Fellowship

I know there are plenty of feminists out there that are not only passionate Columbia_law_madisonabout reproductive justice, but the law as well. If that happens to be you, consider this new fellowship offered by Columbia Law School and The Center for Reproductive Rights. It is a two year, post-graduate fellowship that will begin in July of 2010.

This sounds like an amazing opportunity to do great work for reproductive rights. Here is a description of the program

The CRR-CLS Fellowship is a full-time, residential fellowship for up to two full years starting in July 2010. The Fellow will be a member of the community of graduate fellows at the Law School and will be integrated into the legal and policy work of the Center and will have work space at both locations. The Fellow will also have access to law school facilities, including the library and on-line research resources, and faculty events. It is expected that the Fellow will work closely with an assigned Law School faculty mentor. Fellows will pursue independent research and scholarship in preparation for entering the legal academic job market at the conclusion of their first Fellowship year. Fellows are expected to produce a work of serious scholarship during their Fellowship tenure. Fellows will also have responsibility for the planning and hosting of academic conferences and/or roundtable discussions and creation of curricular materials as part of their work at CRR. The scope and detail of the Fellows’ work will be agreed upon in consultation with their faculty mentor and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

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