By Mia Milosevic
What is Reproductive Justice (RJ)? The definition is simple and more expansive than just a woman’s right to have an abortion. It’s the right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent children in safe and sustainable communities.
From now through Feb. 19, Gender Resources – which provides education, outreach and resources to CCNY students on gender and sexuality – has partnered with Planned Parenthood of New York City, to illuminate RJ principles by hosting Reproductive Justice Week. The events intend to educate CCNY students on matters of sexual health, consent, bodily autonomy, and reproductive rights, as well as mobilize students around reproductive healthcare and access.
Bailey Borchardt, a political science student at City College and Planned Parenthood Generation CUNY Organizer, believes both women and men should pay attention to RJ. “It affects us all,” says Borchardt, 27. “Maternal mortality rates have never been higher in the United States. This is a matter of reproductive justice. Affordable education is a matter of reproductive justice. Universal healthcare is a matter of reproductive justice. Achieving that equity and improving quality of life for CCNY Students, and New Yorkers in general, is a matter of reproductive justice.”
The Reproductive Justice movement dates back to 1994, when a collective of Black, indigenous, and trans women, created the term in response to the exclusionary narrative around reproductive rights, which focused exclusively on white, cis-gender women. Borchardt emphasizes that these are not issues of the past, and that even today, women of color are often the victims of reproductive injustice at disproportionate rates.
“February marks Black History Month, [and] Black women have a much higher likelihood of dying due to complications at birth than white women,” she explains. “When we center our most marginalized communities in the changes we seek, everyone benefits.”
True to the roots of the movement, the organizers are working in collaboration with the LGBT+ Open Alliance which will be hosting two of the four events.
- Real Sex Talk: a workshop by a Planned Parenthood to engage students on topics of sexual health, consent, and pleasure on Feb. 13th from 7 to 9 PM in City Towers
- Speed Friending: a space for students to have honest conversations about reproductive justice on Feb. 14th 12:30 to 2 PM in NAC 1/211
- Tea Time with Queerocracy: a discussion of reproductive justice through the lens of black, trans women, on Feb. 19th 12:30 to 2 PM in NAC 1/101B.
Borchardt has high hopes for the events, and stresses its importance: “With this political climate, the CCNY campus should feel like an inclusive, safe haven for those of us who are targeted by the presidential administration,” she says. “Hopefully students will come and hear us out, learn something new about themselves and about others, and walk away with a perspective on a topic that affects us all.”
*CCNY’s Open Alliance also organized the above events with Borchardt, in conjunction with Planned Parenthood and Gender Resources. The Open Alliance is hosting some events, and are dedicated to making the schedule inclusive. By highlighting LGBTQ+ reproductive heath rights and accessibility, they bring a multidimensional perspective to RJ week.