Toward Reproductive Freedom: If Women of Color Can Frame Reproductive Rights as Both Health and Social Justice Issues, That Would Be One of the Most Significant Outcomes of the Historic March for Women's Lives

By Kashef, Ziba | Colorlines Magazine, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview

Toward Reproductive Freedom: If Women of Color Can Frame Reproductive Rights as Both Health and Social Justice Issues, That Would Be One of the Most Significant Outcomes of the Historic March for Women's Lives


Kashef, Ziba, Colorlines Magazine


To hear some women tell it, the March for Women's Lives was the largest, most diverse reproductive rights gathering in history. More than a million women and their supporters turned out April 25, 2004 in Washington, D.C., including a strong contingent of the young and a respectable number of women of color. For an event taking place just five months after President Bush signed the ban on so-called "partial birth" abortions, it represented an extraordinary grassroots groundswell in opposition to years of steady attacks on women's reproductive freedoms.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

But beneath the surface of solidarity were long-simmering tensions within the women's movement--tensions between women of color who often feel marginalized and the major pro-choice organizations that have historically viewed reproductive rights through a white, middle-class lens. The story behind the march reveals conflicts that have divided women of diverse backgrounds for as long as women have struggled for their autonomy and freedom. As successful as the mobilization was in bringing women's groups together under one broad theme, those conflicts are far from resolved. However, women of color leaders point to some shifts in reproductive rights politics--shifts that strengthen their campaign for reproductive justice as well as the larger women's movement.

Calling All Women

When Loretta Ross first heard about the march--originally dubbed the "March for Freedom of Choice"--she had no intention of going. As an organizer of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective annual conference and a longtime women's health advocate, she says, "I didn't want our discussion derailed talking about white women again." But there was a buzz about the march, and SisterSong members wanted to consider it. After deliberations at their 2003 conference, the members of SisterSong decided to participate but only if certain conditions were met. "If the focus of the march went beyond abortion, if they included women of color on the steering committee and if they gave money to women of color to organize, then we'd be willing to participate," Ross explains. Representatives from the mainstream pro-choice organizations that initiated the march--the National Organization for Women, NARAL ProChoice America, Planned Parenthood and the Feminist Majority--agreed, and the newly named "March for Women's Lives" was underway.

The name change was critical. "'Choice' is a problematic term in communities of color," says Ross. Faced with a lack of health insurance and health care access; immigration restrictions; and population control policies such as welfare reform "family caps" and sterilization abuse, many women of color health advocates don't see their communities as having choices. "To frame it as a liberal, individualistic choice message doesn't speak to the [lack of] control in communities of color," she notes. Historically, Ross adds, the word "choice" was associated with opposition to federal intrusion on states' rights--a term that harkens back to segregation and a politics of racial division that oppressed people of color.

Also key was the inclusion of two major women of color health organizations on the march steering committee: the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and the Black Women's Health Imperative. Before the Latina Institute joined the steering committee, the organization had already strategized how to draw young women as well as women of color to the event, says Executive Director Silvia Henriquez. "Our goal was to bring a more diverse youth presence to the march. Two, was to change the message of the march and be more inclusive." For Latina marchers, the key reproductive health and rights issues include the lack of access to health care, comprehensive services and Spanish-speaking providers. Many Latinas support abortion rights--if not for themselves as individuals, then at least for other women who might want the option. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Toward Reproductive Freedom: If Women of Color Can Frame Reproductive Rights as Both Health and Social Justice Issues, That Would Be One of the Most Significant Outcomes of the Historic March for Women's Lives
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.