Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness… but just for some people.

Our growing population is becoming a more pressing issue every day as our numbers rise and consumption increases. While adjusting our consumption habits could solve the resource issues we face, many jump to population control as a solution. However, the burden of this solution is dumped upon women, especially those who are of color or facing poverty. This stigma takes form in US policies and community structures. According to US legislation, every woman technically has the right to choose whether or not to have a child. Unfortunately, the culture of choice is ultimately determined by the color of one’s skin and how much money one has in the bank. In my paper I will be investigating the issue of reproductive justice in relation to women of color and women in poverty and how the overpopulation has become associated with these demographics through the illusion of choice.

The term reproductive justice is defined by Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice (ACRJ) as “the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, social, and economic well-being of women and girls, based on the full achievement and protection of women’s human rights.” The term was coined in 1994 by African-American women who fought for healthcare reform when the Clinton Administration’s denied fair access to abortion. The women used the term justice instead of choice because the people it refers to do not have real choices much of the time. Since that time, grassroots political organizations supporting reproductive justice have emerged throughout the nation.

Currently, access to birth control methods are not equally distributed among social classes. The 1976 Hyde Amendment prohibits public funding for abortions, putting affluent (and usually white) women in control of their reproductive health since they can afford such services, while poor women (usually of color) are unable to make such a choice without sufficient funds. Other instances of eugenics, such as the popularization of sterilization in Puerto Rican women, have created a culture that puts the blame of overpopulation on minority communities. Abortion is not covered in Native American women’s healthcare plans because they are federally funded.

In order to address unfair reproductive policies and adjust our culture we must approach the breadth of reproductive oppression. This includes, though is certainly not limited to, access to birth control, abortion rights, education, and support for childcare. Though reproduction is not the sole answer to overpopulation, assuring reproductive justice for all would promote social, economic, political equality among all.


“Reproductive Justice Briefing Book: A Primer on Reproductive Justice and Social Change.

  1. #1 by Susannah on November 19, 2010 - 4:44 pm

    Good start! What element are you researching, though? It isn’t clear from this post what particular argument about you’ll be developing politics or policy and how this argument connects with environmental and ecological analysis. Focus on a particular case study (or studies), or a particular historical moment or location, to clarify your approach.

  2. #2 by Professor Brylinsky on November 12, 2010 - 3:35 am

    In order to have a balance between gender analysis and environmental/ecological analysis, be sure to look for sources discussing the arguments for birth control and population control, dissect the rhetoric of numbers as more powerful than choices and use of resources, and outline clearly the differences in resource use/population trends between different demographics. Keeping the focus of your paper to American women will work well – be clear about who you speak for!

(will not be published)