Confronting Attempts to Control and Divide Us: Women of Color Surmount Obstacles on Race, Abortion and Sex Selection
A vocal minority, armed with fabricated facts, big budget infotainment and regressive legislation are attempting to deny rights to women of color and the children they bear. At the state and national levels, these pro-life advocates seek to pass legislation stopping women of color from accessing reproductive health services. Accusing us of ignorance or willful self-destruction, they ride in to protect us by drafting and passing legislation to ban abortions for reasons of the sex or race of the fetus—trampling our rights and ignoring our needs in the process.
We organized a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, woman-powered coalition in anticipation of bills that attempted to hold women of color apart to face special scrutiny in accessing abortion. Our opposition letter to Congress opposing the “Susan B. Anthony and Fredrick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act” garnered signatures from 27 groups all committed to justice for women no matter their age, race, color, sexual orientation or reproductive desires.
We stand united and firm. We reject unsolicited advice and unwarranted intervention. Creating our own support and counsel, we work for a world that justly regards our needs, reproductive potential and community contexts. The misogyny and racism that contribute to some of the reproductive decisions women make are deplorable obstacles we must dismantle. No single law, especially not one limiting marginalized women’s rights to self-determination, will do this for us.
Race and gender-based attempts to curtail certain women’s rights continue. We anticipate five to eight more states will attempt this kind of legislation, with the online, print and billboard media that accompanied all the previous rounds re-emerging.
Even as we collect and share all we’ve learned about the state-level fights on this issue, we’re delving deeper into how to frame and organize for the larger challenge ahead. From our vantage point, this includes—crafting and testing messages for stakeholders and likely voters about sex selection and race and abortion; developing legislative strategy informed by legal analyses of previous battles; engaging health care providers to provide them the knowledge and cultural sensitivity to approach these issues respectfully with their patients; and partnering with South Asian women’s organizations to address the issue of son-preference in our communities.
There are many things you can do to partner with us in this work. Go here to see a list of options from inviting us to speak to your group, to blogging with us on these issues, to joining our coalition.
Download and read the full Trent Franks success story (PDF) »
Defining the Role of Government in Assessment of Sex Selective Technologies: How to Protect Rights and Promote Equality
As the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considered whether the sperm-sorting technique of a company called MicroSort should be more widely available, Generations Ahead asked the FDA to conduct a public hearing to shed light on this new technology.
MicroSort allows would-be parents to separate X-chromosome sperm from that of Y. We wanted public access to their data on which ethnic groups have been seeking out sperm-sorting and whether males, females or a rough mix are generally preferred.
Understanding which and why consumers are using MicroSort today is essential to adequately assessing their potential effects on our society. To demonstrate we were not a lone voice and get traction with the FDA, Generations Ahead played the familiar role of bridge builder, reaching out to a number of reproductive rights and justice allies to sign-on to a letter requesting the hearing. We launched a critical conversation about interacting with new genetic technologies in ways that respect women’s rights and health.
To date, we have not heard from the FDA directly. However, MicroSort itself revealed awareness of the potential ethical dilemmas and public concern their procedure entails. Moreover, we began the journey past a conditioned response that anything that facilitates reproductive freedom must be allowed and anything that calls for government involvement must be stopped.
New reproductive technologies aren’t going away. They are an inevitable outgrowth of scientific advancement and embedded assumptions about which children are desirable. It is our job as advocates for justice and equality to find another way to address these issues.
At Generations Ahead, we seek to shift our culture of decision-making about reproduction and parenting, dismantling the ableist and sexist beliefs that often cause people to seek out sex-selective procedures.
To join us in these efforts, please support our work and [send an email to the FDA adding your request for a public hearing on MicroSort to ours.]
Download and read the full FDA success story (PDF) »
Dodging Old Traps: Aligning, Affirming and Addressing Disability Rights and Reproductive Autonomy
Historically, champions of women’s reproductive rights have been pitted in opposition to advocates for disability rights with some concluding that support for access to abortion has been deemed tacit approval for eliminating certain genetic conditions and disabilities.
We not only refute enmity between disability rights and reproductive autonomy, we see both as inseparable elements of the struggle for women’s rights, disability rights and reproductive justice. Without information about and support for those among us living with disabilities or caring for disabled children, there cannot be real choice nor reproductive rights for all women, women with and without disabilities. We helped create a collaboration of never-before-linked allies to affirm support of the Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act. This historic piece of legislation offers women real knowledge and assistance to make their own best decisions about whether to carry a child with a disability to term. And it’s a first step in foraging what we insist must be a lasting shared agenda between disability rights and reproductive ones.
Attempts to pit reproductive rights against those of individuals with disabiities and their families continue. From a controversial Nobel laureate to a popular British television personality, people in the spotlight insist on advancing the prejudiced idea that abortion exists to eliminate disability. This simplistic opposition demeans advocates for both issues and merits our continuous and forceful rebuttal.
Join us in affirming that disability rights and reproductive rights are intimately connected causes we support. Sign on to our statement here.
Download and read the full Kennedy-Brownback success story (PDF) »
Elevating Women’s Voices: Women of Color and Indigenous Women Explore Promise and Problems of Genetic Technologies
Crafting good policy for evolving genetic technologies requires that we ask questions, examine long-term consequences and consider social as well as individual concerns. Unfortunately, genetic technologies are crafted, marketed and sold faster than we can even make sense of them.
Before we can even hope to evaluate these advances, we must establish some criteria with which to judge them. Toward this end, we convened an unprecedented 20 organizations to begin just this process. Bridging historic divisions among groups representing marginalized women, we hammered out a shared vision of how to best evaluate, monitor, and when absolutely necessary, regulate new genetic advances.
We neither condemn all genetic technologies nor embrace them without reservation. Instead, we call for serious examination of their uses, availability and consequences. Our aim is to ensure genetic technologies work to affirm our shared humanity, not to undermine any group for its sex, ethnicity, ability or other characteristic. This requires bringing groups too often ignored together to lead a conversation about how we should interact with genetic advances.
Women historically affected by and excluded from decision-making about genetic technologies deserve a leading voice in a national conversation about their uses. Leaving it to manufacturers to consider the implications of their products risks having profit come before people. Expecting government to act as arbiter between private gain and social good has not worked.
Without time to consider what effects new procedures might have, we cannot thoughtfully evaluate best practices for integrating them into our health care system.
Read more about our efforts to engage diverse stakeholders in airing their views about genetic technologies.
Download and read the full WOCI success story (PDF) »