The Freedom to Choose

This past Friday, I began my day anxiously anticipating the visit to Choices, a women’s health clinic that also offers abortion services in New York City. After reviewing the Choices website and reading up on the type of services the clinic offers, it made me happy to hear that someone out there was providing women the freedom to choose.

However, the excitement I felt about visiting Choices began to subside as I considered the words I had read two nights prior in Loretta Ross’s chapter “Color of Violence” from her book White Supremacy and Reproductive Justice. I began to consider how in the past, the freedom to choose was not always available to white women nor women of color. While white women were discouraged from having abortions, women of color were subjected to forced contraception and sterilization all in the name of white supremacy.

The awful history that hides behind the shadows of the plight for reproductive justice still lingers to this day. All women are caught in a constant battle against short sighted politicians who don’t seem to take their humanity into account.These politicians deprive them of reproductive education and then expect them to “know better” when they face an unexpected pregnancy. But not surprisingly, those who catch themselves at a double bind tend to be women of color and women in poverty. Because they can’t travel long distances to an abortion clinic or even afford an abortion in the first place, they are more likely to subject themselves to dangerous methods that put their lives at risk.

As we continue to fight the battle for reproductive justice, we must consider the negative effects the lack of choice produces. Being pro-choice does not mean murder, it does not mean carelessness, and it does not mean immorality. To me, being pro-choice means providing women reproductive education and allowing them to take ownership of their own bodies.


3 thoughts on “The Freedom to Choose

  1. I similarly thought about Choices in the context of the readings and thought it was interesting to hear Merle speak and tour the building with the idea of reproductive justice in mind.

  2. Access is a key element to all of what you are describing. Access to health education. Access to contraception. Access to a neighborhood free of violence and sexual assault. Access to healthcare and economic stability / mobility. Access to childcare and after school programs. Access to abortion. Reproductive justice is an all encompassing movement, led by women of color to change the world as we know it.

  3. I’m glad that you raised our history of reproductive coercion and forced sterilization of women of color in the context of a conversation on reproductive justice. I think it is incredibly important to consider how these legacies continue today through structures like mass incarceration–when our nation imprisons large portions of Black and Latinx populations during peak reproductive years, isn’t that a type of reproductive coercion and a contemporary form of eugenics?

    But anti-choice individuals often criticize organizations like Choices or Planned Parenthood for working in areas that are densely populated by people of color. Ben Carson claimed that Planned Parenthood is a eugenic organization based on white supremacist population control. When I was escorting last weekend, I was fascinated listening to the anti-choice protestors employ eugenic rhetoric, claiming that Choices was a white organization committing a racial genocide of people of color. I was really frustrated to hear these individuals exploiting an already-violent history to further their political agenda, without acknowledging that both eugenicists and pro-lifers are denying people the same fundamental act: choice.

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