Five Race and Gender Justice Lessons Learned from This Marathon Election Cycle
Traditionally speaking, defending reproductive health rights has been the (good, strong) work of feminists. Ironically, this allows some people who don’t identify with or know the ins and outs of feminism—particularly men—to be silent on an issue that directly impacts their own households.
The truth is, reproductive health rights and access are inherently raced and transcend gender because they affect a disproportionate number of people (not just girls and women) of color. We are less likely to have private insurance; less likely to be employed; more likely to be poor; more likely to die of HIV/AIDS and the list goes on.
For example, Latinos make up about 16 percent of the population but a whopping 29 percent of those who use Title X-funded family planning services. Black people make up about 12 percent of the population but 19 percent of users. Family planning services include screenings and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases that can limit fertility or cause death; birth control that allows prospective parents to determine the timing and size of their families; and breast exams that can reveal a mother, daughter, sister, aunt’s or grandmother’s cancerous lump. These are family issues.
Also, black and Latina women undergo abortions at a much higher rate than white women, a fact widely attributed to a lack of birth control access and the potential economic strain of having a child.
It’s easy to get caught up in the political gamesmanship and the right-wing rhetoric of sex, sin, the sanctity of fetuses and the Christian roots of American government. But we must keep the people who actually use these sources of health care at the center. County by county, state by state, ideologically driven and misogynist lawmakers are chipping away at our access to it. A presidential election won’t make or break that fact. More of us need to woman/man up and fight for it.