The Need for a Movement Toward Reproductive Justice

Contributed by Diane J. Abatemarco, PhD, MSW

ILNH held its first Springboard on Reproductive Rights on Tuesday, July 9th  at the Kalmia Club in Lambertville. The Springboard featured a panel of experts moderated by Diane Abatemarco, including: 

Taylor Austin, Pennsylvania Community Engagement Coordinator for The Women’s Centers, a group of independent abortion providers with five clinics across four states. 

Casey Olesko, Communications Director for Planned Parenthood of Northern, Central, and Southern New Jersey and Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey.

Marlene Pray, an Education and Training Consultant with over 20 years of professional, community, non-profit management and board leadership in community organizing, sexuality education, social justice and human rights, who lives and resists in Doylestown, PA. 

The objectives for the Springboard included: 1) learning more about the issues from experts doing the work, 2) identifying tactics for activism that are suited for elevating our work, as outlined by the National Indivisible organization, and, 3) building an abortion rights action campaign for our activist community of over 1,200 people.  

What we learned:

Since the Supreme Court handed down its 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, states have enacted laws to deconstruct, codify, regulate and limit the conditions and circumstances a woman may obtain an abortion (see https://www.guttmacher. org). 

New Jersey, under Governor Murphy, has been working diligently to support Planned Parenthood.  Other states like Pennsylvania, however, are more restrictive.   

Reproductive justice was discussed. Reproductive justice, as defined by Sister Song, a national organization, is the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.  SisterSong believes to achieve this right we must address intersecting oppressions (e.g., race, poverty, classism, misogyny, etc.)

Many activities in support of reproductive justice were identified during the Springboard, among them is the importance of talking with local, state, and national legislators about supporting safe abortion and Planned Parenthood, doing away with the Hatch Act, and creating an ILNH action plan to respond wisely when needed to protect abortion in the U.S.   

ILNH volunteers Ana Slack and Cynthia Ruffner raised their hands to be Activators for ILNH’s future work in reproductive rights and justice.  Watch for an announcement for an upcoming meeting in August to begin to build our reproductive justice work in ILNH.  For questions reach out to Ana Slack, Cynthia Ruffner, Cindi Sternfeld, Sarah Gold or Diane Abatemarco.

ILNH volunteer, Diane J. Abatemarco, PhD, MSW, is a professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Pediatrics at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. You can reach her at abatemarcodj@gmail.com.

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