Why reproductive justice requires a green future

The pro-choice movement is hobbled if limited to abortion access. Rather, we should embrace calls for reproductive justice to broaden our ideas of choice to include safe neighborhoods, clean environments, economic stability, and bodily autonomy.

Reproductive Justice is a framework developed by Black feminists to expand the pro-choice movement beyond the limited scope of abortion access. While the right to abortion access is a basic requirement for equality, limiting our movement and demands to abortion access ignores the many ways our reproductive lives are restrained. 

Indeed, our pro-choice movement should oppose coerced sterilizations and contraception. We should demand free, safe, and public childcare for all. We should be free to raise our children without fear that we or they will be locked away in prison or killed by the police. We should be free to raise our children in safe and healthy environments with clean air, water and food. We should be free to raise our children without fear of homelessness or joblessness. Only in this way can we be free to choose to have a child or not without economic or social coercion. 

By broadening the ideas of choice with the framework of reproductive justice, the struggle for gender liberation is better able to be intersectional. One’s demands can be more inclusive, and one can more readily engage in coalition with others. For instance, one demand for reproductive justice is universal healthcare. Therefore, activists for reproductive justice and activists for universal healthcare share a demand and can work together. 

With such a framework, abolitionist demands like “defund the police” or “abolish ICE” become reproductive justice demands. For example, those fighting for reproductive justice have an interest in closing the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center as the center actively separates families. Furthermore, by detaining individuals, the NWDC limits the reproductive choices of people.

Just as abolition is a reproductive justice issue, so is the green new deal. The green new deal is an anti-neoliberal agenda to publicly fund the retooling and reorienting of the US economy. The deal calls for a just transition to clean energy that prioritizes a massive jobs program that is publicly accountable, and community-directed.

The cleaning up of our neighborhoods, the weatherizing of our homes, buildings, and infrastructure, a just transition to clean energy, and the investment in weather mitigating infrastructure, all done through a green jobs program, are demands that can fit into a reproductive justice framework.

Reproductive justice demands must be international in scope. We don’t just want cleaner air and parks in our neighborhoods; we want the US to stop funding the bombing of Palestinian people and children; we want the US to stop deporting refugees; we want reproductive justice for all.

The green new deal’s just transition is an important framework for such demands. We should defund the Pentagon but also have a well-funded training and jobs program for those who currently depend on the military for work, insurance, etc. Just like coal miners shouldn’t be ignored, nor should workers for Boeing or Lockheed Martin. Instead, these industries need to be retooled and repurposed for a green and just future.

The fight for the green new deal and for reproductive justice overlap and reinforce each other. Those of us fighting for reproductive justice should welcome the movement for the green new deal and add our voices to it. Likewise, those campaigning for the green new deal would benefit from engaging with the ideas and movement for reproductive justice.