What is reproductive justice?

Reproductive justice will exist when all people can exercise the rights and access the resources they need to thrive and to decide if, when, and how to create and sustain their families with dignity, free from discrimination, coercion, or violence.

Reproductive Justice

For If/When/How, reproductive justice (RJ) represents a framework of understanding, an analytical tool, a movement-building strategy, and a desired outcome. RJ recognizes the ways race, class, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender expression, immigration status, ability, and more impact our ability to shape our reproductive destinies. By applying an intersectional analysis, RJ advocates recognize how each individual is uniquely affected by barriers to information, resources, health care, and social supports at different stages throughout their reproductive lives. By training, engaging, and mobilizing our network, we seek to secure the enabling conditions necessary for all people to thrive in their reproductive lives and beyond.

The term “reproductive justice” was coined in the mid ’90s when Women of Color concluded that neither the pro-choice nor social justice movements were meeting the needs of their communities. They believed the traditional “choice” framework failed to take into account the economic, social, demographic, and geographic circumstances that prohibited their communities from having any real, meaningful choice about their reproductive health and destinies. Likewise, they felt the broader civil rights and social justice movement often ignored sexual and reproductive health and rights concerns. They located reproductive health within a social justice framework to create the new term and framework of reproductive justice, and began building a movement that centers and embraces the leadership of those most marginalized. If/When/How’s Supporting and Centering People of Color Initiative seeks to honor the RJ framework and ensure that the voices and experiences of those most affected by reproductive oppression are leading our work.

Lawyering and Reproductive Justice

If/When/How recognizes the richness of experiences present in our community of legal professionals: every individual brings intersecting identities of privilege and oppression, such as the educational privilege of possessing a law degree and the systemic oppression faced by those with a marginalized racial, gender, and/or sexual identity. The tension between these experiences of privilege and oppression echo the tension between the traditional legal profession and the radical framework of reproductive justice. In light of this, we are constantly asking questions, learning more, and leading the evolving conversation about what it means to be lawyering for reproductive justice.