Reproductive Justice is an approach to reproductive rights that was created by women of colour in the USA in 1994. They did not believe that the existing abortion rights movement was addressing the realities of life for marginalised communities. They needed a movement that understood and worked to end intersecting systems of oppression.
Reproductive ‘choices’ are not a level playing field without racial justice, economic justice, disability rights and the liberation of queer people.
Many of the women who founded the Reproductive Justice movement went on to lead it through the organisation Sistersong. They define Reproductive Justice as
“…the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.”
Reproductive Justice challenges the language of 'choice' as our choices depend on resources and access to our rights. It presents a community response to reproductive issues rather than an individualistic one.
Reproductive Justice asks us to consider what needs to change in society so that everyone is free to choose. It also calls out the reproductive oppression that the mainstream pro-choice organisations have been silent on or complicit in, such as coercive contraceptive policies targeting poor Black women or the forced sterilisation of disabled and indigenous people.
Faith Voices For Reproductive Justice wants to honour the work of the Reproductive Justice movement by learning how to centre marginalised voices & dismantle systems of oppression at work in the world.
As we journey with reproductive issues as people of faith we want to honour the teaching & example of Reproductive Justice leaders in all we do.
We want our advocacy to address systems of oppression that impact people in Northern Ireland. Health inequalities, economic justice, housing and food security, racial justice, disability rights, hostile asylum and immigration systems, queer liberation and gender based violence are all Reproductive Justice issues. They are also faith issues. Working for justice in these areas is sacred work and at the heart of our calling as people of faith.
We're not alone in embracing and honouring the Reproductive Justice movement in our work!
Interfaith organisation the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice supports the Reproductive Justice framework.
Christian ethicist Rebecca Todd Peters has written about Reproductive Justice in her book “Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice”.
We don’t want to just talk about Reproductive Justice but also learn how to practice it. Reproductive Justice has had a huge impact on abortion rights work all over the world, although it isn’t helpful for organisations led by white people to claim the label. Too often the work of Black women is erased.
We don't claim to be an Reproductive Justice organisation but we believe in the moral vision of Reproductive Justice and want to honour it in our local context. We can learn, grow, collaborate, build bridges and coalitions, and show up to do the work needed for intersectional justice in Northern Ireland.