Volume 25


by Jill C. Morrison

Reproductive Justiceis a concept developed by Women of Color activists in the 1990s. This framework considers how systemic oppression impacts reproductive decision-making. Acknowledging that abortion and contraception were often not the primary reproductive concerns of many marginalized women, including young women, women with disabilities, undocumented women, and queer women, activists adopted a framework that considers the contexts in which reproductive decisions are made. This approach centers social, racial and economic justice, and focuses as much on women’s rights to have and raise children as it does on their right to not have them through access to safe and legal abortion care and contraceptive access.

I am delighted that the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy is publishing two papers by students from my Reproductive Justice (RJ) Seminar. The papers address two limitations on the right to have children imposed on traditionally marginalized women. Madeline Curtis’s article examines the often insurmountable barriers to infertility treatment for low-income women. Importantly, she also explores the other factors co-related to poverty that make poor women more vulnerable to infertility in the first place. Mina Dixon’s piece explores the criminalization of pregnant women who are addicted to illegal drugs. Focusing on the Southern part of the U.S. she identifies the particular cultural and social factors that have prevented policy-makers and law enforcement from treating the issue as a public health matter. Both of these papers do an exceptional job of applying the RJ framework, and identifying all of the various presumptions and –isms shaping the relevant laws and policies. Furthermore, both papers highlight the lived experiences of women.

I recently attended a Conference held by the Center on Reproductive Rights & Justice,2 and sat on a panel of professors teaching RJ. We were asked to assess the impact of our courses on the RJ movement. I immediately thought of the acceptance of these two papers for publication by the Poverty Journal. Often, reproductive issues are only addressed in women’s, gender or feminism journals. Because of the intersectional focus of RJ, and consideration of social and economic constraints on reproduction, I can think of no better forum to highlight their work.


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1. See generally ASIAN CMTYS. FOR REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE, A NEW VISION FOR ADVANCING OUR MOVEMENT (2005), https://forwardtogether.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/ACRJ-A-New-Vision.pdf.

2. CRRJ@5 Conference, UC BERKELEY SCH. OF LAW, https://www.law.berkeley.edu/research/center -on-reproductive-rights-and-justice/events/crrj5-conference/ (last visited Feb. 14, 2018).