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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Reproductive justice: voices from SisterSong

Women in the reproductive justice movement seek the basic human right to control their bodies. This includes a woman¹s right to terminate her pregnancy, and the rights to have a child, and to parent that child. On this edition from our Women's Desk, we hear from three women advocating for comprehensive reproductive health.

Select to listenThe issues they say need to be prioritized include: sex education, HIV and AIDS prevention, housing, educational opportunities, queer-conscious-healthcare, the economic resources to support a child, the right to live free of violence, as well as an analysis of reproductive technologies. They spoke at the 10th anniversary of SisterSong, a women of color led organization dedicated to a vision of "reproductive justice" that considers the race, class and sexuality dynamics of reproductive health.


Aimee Thorne-Thomsen, executive director, Pro-Choice Public Education Project; Mia Mingus, executive director, Georgians for Choice; Sujatha Jesudason, program director, Gender, Justice and Human Genetics at the Center for Genetics and Society.

Senior Producer: Tena Rubio
Contributing Freelance Producer and Guest Host: Sarah Olson
Interns: Puck Lo, Alexis McCrimmon and Samson Reiny

Bonus Audio::

Cara Page - 9:39 128k broadcast-quality mp3
Dorothy Roberts - 23:37 128k broadcast-quality mp3
Graciela Sanchez - 17:01 128k broadcast-quality mp3

For more information::

Georgians for Choice
PO Box 8551
Atlanta, GA 31106
404-532-0022; fax: 404-532-0025; gfchoice@mindspring.com

Pro-choice Public Education Project
PO Box 3952
New York, NY 10163
888 253-CHOICE; fax: 212-977-4578; pep@protectchoice.org

Gender, Justice and Human Genetics Center for Genetics and Society
436 14th Street, Suite 700
Oakland, CA 94612

SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective
PO Box 311020
Atlanta, GA 31131
404-344-9629; fax: 404-346-7517; info@SisterSong.net

Comment Post:: 7/4/2007 7:35 AM

Protecting life, caring for others, and respecting God's gift of creation. These are moral principles worth striving for, and I appreciate Greener Mag's (and my good friend Harlan's) commitment to these. But it's simply impossible to be both pro-abortion and pro-nature.

It was Rachel Carson's book about the impact of chemicals on unborn eagles that started the modern environmental movement. A generation later, while eagles have happily rebounded, environmental groups still know these chemicals harm unborn animals and are fighting hard to keep these out of the environment.

Science today gives us powerful tools to look at what's going on in utero or in eggs as the unborn of different species develop. Using these tools we can closely measure the effects our chemicals and wastes are having on new life both before and after it is born.

Even though they would probably never describe it this way, it was progressive advocacy groups that lobbied for listing teratogens as a regulated class of chemicals because of their effects on unborn babies. They were only looking at the after-effects of birth-defects, but they were applying prevention directly against the in-utero cause of them. We have rightfully enacted dozens of laws protecting the unborn from chemical hazards. The effect of teratogens is well established by OSHA and EPA. The NIOSH Pocket Guide has been a standard for protecting women and their unborn babies in industrial settings for decades. In fact, EPA and OSHA have passed regulations specifically and strictly controlling the measurable exposure of high risk categories of people to these chemicals, including pregnant women.

We run national campaigns to prevent pregnant mothers from smoking and consuming alcohol and drugs because we know what horrible damage these chemicals cause. With respect to "my body my choice," these chemicals harm both baby and mother at the same time.

Since Rachel's book we have also come to know a lot about the effects of environmental toxins like PCBs, lead, mercury, and uranium. They harm developing marine and terrestrial mammals and cause species-altering genetic defects. Endocrine receptors in unborn animals are impacted by growth hormones and other complex chemical compounds we create in our agricultural industry and dump into our waterways. They alter normal sexual growth and expression of physical characteristics in the womb and in the egg.

I've argued for years that the largely-conservative pro-life community should be fighting for all babies to be able to grow free from pollutants. It frustrates me that pro-lifers are not more concerned about the impacts of these chemicals on the rest of God's creatures. Assuming most conservatives are also pro-business types, I believe we shouldn't do business with companies that put mercury or sex-modifying chemicals in the environment.

We work diligently to protect these unborn creatures. Why do we make the choice to trample these rights for a select group of unborn humans?

In their 1991 statement Renewing the Earth, the U.S. Catholic bishops remind us "[W]e are charged with restoring the integrity of all creation. We must care for all God's creatures, especially the most vulnerable. How, then, can we protect endangered species and at the same time be callous to the unborn, the elderly, or disabled persons? Is not abortion also a sin against creation? If we turn our backs to our own unborn children, can we truly expect that nature will receive respectful treatment at our hands? The care of the earth will not be advanced by the destruction of human life at any stage of development. As Pope John Paul II has said, 'Protecting the environment is first of all the right to live and the protection of life.'"

Here's the bottom line: If an unborn human is poisoned by environmental contaminants or by toxins taken in by the mother, we call it a tragedy. If that same unborn human is poisoned by an injection of saline, we call it a choice.

Greener Mag's blog header says it's "The Green Solutions Magazine for American Homes Gardens and Families." I hope the editors will see that this endorsement of abortion is not a green solution for our homes and families at all.

Warm regards,
Don Bosch
Managing Editor


As a Green publication we see the logic in airing expressions from all points of view including the view that any form of discrimination toward anyone: gays, women, non-human species, has a deleterious effect on all creation, the environment included; exposing that is the green solution.

While we started as a “get on the green bandwagon” publication, we soon found our own niche, which suggests that all forms of inequality whether social, economic, political or, which discriminates against someone’s right of self determination is the true origin of environmental pollution.

Destroy a man’s right to raise a crop, take away someone or something’s home in order to mine the land, clear cut a forest or tell a women her voice doesn’t count and you’ve played roughshod over someone else’s rights and that is environmentally destructive.

My body, my choice is simply one group’s vision of environmental equality and as such we are obligated to air that opinion in the long term hope that by listening to everyone we will eventually hear the solutions.

Thanks to Don for his unfailing advocacy for the environment and for his quite correct assessment that green is not always found in the nature of what we do but rather, we hope, in the result.

Greener Magazine

For more opinion see the “queer” minds of some of our colleagues at InTheFray.org

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