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If you really care about Environmental Justice Then you should care about Reproductive Justice Jill C. Morrison National Women’s Law Center 202-588-5180.

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Presentation on theme: "If you really care about Environmental Justice Then you should care about Reproductive Justice Jill C. Morrison National Women’s Law Center 202-588-5180."— Presentation transcript:

1 If you really care about Environmental Justice Then you should care about Reproductive Justice Jill C. Morrison National Women’s Law Center ◊ ◊

2 2 About this series Developed to address intersection between Reproductive Justice and other progressive issues. Developed to address intersection between Reproductive Justice and other progressive issues. Introduces Reproductive Justice to new communities that may only know of reproductive rights advocacy that focuses on abortion and contraception. Introduces Reproductive Justice to new communities that may only know of reproductive rights advocacy that focuses on abortion and contraception. Educates on RJ’s three components in a context with which other progressives are familiar. Educates on RJ’s three components in a context with which other progressives are familiar.

3 3 So far includes… Intimate Partner Violence (October 6 th ) Intimate Partner Violence (October 6 th ) Race Discrimination (October 13 th ) Race Discrimination (October 13 th ) Education (October 20 th ) Education (October 20 th ) Environmental Justice (today) Environmental Justice (today) Please let us know if there are other issues you’d like to see explored through an RJ lens!

4 4 What is Reproductive Justice? What distinguishes it from the traditional reproductive rights movement? What distinguishes it from the traditional reproductive rights movement? What are its components? What are its components? How does it relate to social justice movements generally? How does it relate to social justice movements generally?

5 5 The Reproductive Justice Movement was Created as a Response to Movements that Failed to Support Women’s Decisions to Bear and Raise Children

6 6 What distinguishes RJ from the traditional reproductive rights movement? The traditional reproductive rights frame focuses on liberty, autonomy and equality, while the Reproductive Justice (RJ) movement places reproductive health and rights within a social justice framework. The traditional reproductive rights frame focuses on liberty, autonomy and equality, while the Reproductive Justice (RJ) movement places reproductive health and rights within a social justice framework. RJ acknowledges that each person’s ability to effectuate their rights is uniquely shaped by social injustices including: poverty, racism, sexism and gender identity discrimination, heterosexism, language discrimination and disablism. RJ acknowledges that each person’s ability to effectuate their rights is uniquely shaped by social injustices including: poverty, racism, sexism and gender identity discrimination, heterosexism, language discrimination and disablism.

7 7 What are the components of Reproductive Justice? The right of individuals to: The right of individuals to: have the children they want have the children they want raise the children they have, and raise the children they have, and plan their families through safe, legal access to abortion and contraception plan their families through safe, legal access to abortion and contraception

8 8 How does Reproductive Justice relate to social justice movements generally? Reproductive Justice requires that all people have the resources, as well as the economic, social, and political power to make healthy decisions about their bodies, sexuality, and reproduction. Reproductive Justice requires that all people have the resources, as well as the economic, social, and political power to make healthy decisions about their bodies, sexuality, and reproduction. The goal is not governmental non-interference in reproductive decision-making. To the contrary, the government plays a key role in remedying social inequalities that contribute to reproductive oppression. The goal is not governmental non-interference in reproductive decision-making. To the contrary, the government plays a key role in remedying social inequalities that contribute to reproductive oppression.

9 9 The origins of Environmental Justice and Reproductive Justice Both are responses to movements that presumed everyone shares the same goals, concerns and opportunities. Both are responses to movements that presumed everyone shares the same goals, concerns and opportunities. Both look to address basic structural inequalities while addressing the specific form that oppression takes. Both look to address basic structural inequalities while addressing the specific form that oppression takes. Both recognize historical context, namely all of the –isms that contributed to current status of the environment and reproductive health of certain communities. Both recognize historical context, namely all of the –isms that contributed to current status of the environment and reproductive health of certain communities.

10 10 Traditional Environmental Rights Rhetoric Contributes to Reproductive Oppression MYTH: Population Control and restrictions on immigration are necessary because there are not enough resources to support births by women in developing nations. MYTH: Population Control and restrictions on immigration are necessary because there are not enough resources to support births by women in developing nations. FACT: Industrialized nations have done more to degrade the planet than developing nations. FACT: Industrialized nations have done more to degrade the planet than developing nations.

11 11 Reproductive Oppression is seen as a solution to environmental problems MYTH: There is no need to ban toxic chemicals from work environments; just ban women of reproductive age. MYTH: There is no need to ban toxic chemicals from work environments; just ban women of reproductive age. FACT: FACT: No one should be exposed to toxic substances in order to make a living. No one should be exposed to toxic substances in order to make a living. Low-income workers, women and people of color are more likely to be in toxic work environments. Low-income workers, women and people of color are more likely to be in toxic work environments.

12 12 Environmental Problems are used as an excuse for Reproductive Oppression MYTH: Birth Control is destroying the Environment, because hormones from oral contraceptives end up in the water supply. MYTH: Birth Control is destroying the Environment, because hormones from oral contraceptives end up in the water supply. FACT: Industrialized farming practices are the primary contributor to hormones in water in soil. FACT: Industrialized farming practices are the primary contributor to hormones in water in soil.

13 13 Attempts to Divide Progressive Movements MYTH: You cannot acknowledge that the environment has an impact on pregnant women without giving the fetus rights. MYTH: You cannot acknowledge that the environment has an impact on pregnant women without giving the fetus rights. FACT: Reproductive Justice supports families’ efforts to have and raise healthy children. FACT: Reproductive Justice supports families’ efforts to have and raise healthy children.

14 14 How You Can Support Environmental Justice and Reproductive Justice Recognize women and children suffer unique effects of environmental hazards and advocate for policies that improve reproductive health and pregnancy outcomes. Support the right of all parents to raise their children in healthy environments by advocating for the equitable distribution of green space, walking and biking trails, and playgrounds in low-income communities. Urge regulatory protections and safer labor practices for those exposed to toxic chemicals in industries dominated by low-income workers and Women of Color. Protections ought to increase awareness of potential harms and inform workers of their rights without promoting employment discrimination against pregnant, potentially pregnant, or nursing women.

15 15 Ways to support both EJ and RJ Increase access to safe and affordable contraceptives and abortion and oppose coercive solutions to environmental problems that limit reproductive autonomy, such as employment policies that require workers to prove they are infertile in order to work with substances that cause birth defects. Encourage agencies, such as the EPA, FDA, and OSHA, to pass and enforce regulations requiring industries using or producing chemicals to regularly test, report on, and reduce the toxicity of their products. Dismantle or repeal existing regulations that place the burden of harmful environmental exposures on poor communities and Communities of Color.

16 16

17 Politics, Fertility and Toxic Chemicals Kimberly Inez McGuire Reproductive Health Technologies Project October 27, 2010 Advocacy at the intersection of reproductive and environmental justice

18 Poll: Which products have you used/handled in the last 24 hours? Check all that apply. oCredit card receipt oCell phone oNon-stick frying pan oCanned food oShampoo/body wash/perfume from major national brand

19 Reproductive Health Technologies Project (RHTP) at-a-Glance The decision NOT to be pregnant Prevention Treatment & Care REPRODUCTIVE & ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH CONTRACEPTION ASSISTED REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGIES ABORTION The decision to be pregnant

20 Common interests, shared approaches Reproductive Justice: will be achieved only when all people have the economic, social, and political power to make healthy decisions about their bodies, sexuality, and reproduction Environmental Justice: seeks to reduce the inequitable environmental burdens born by People of Color, women, indigenous communities and those living in economically disadvantaged areas or developing nations. Issues ~ Climate change ~ Air quality ~ Water quality ~ Safe workplaces ~ Toxic chemical exposure

21 Wedge Issues “Population” is not the problem… …and neither is birth control.

22 Over 80,000 chemicals in commerce

23 Most have never been tested for safety

24 Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) Trick your body into thinking they’re hormones Disrupt natural processes related to sexual and reproductive function Low doses can have big effects Exposures in utero can have lifelong impact EDCs are everywhere!

25 Notorious B.P.A.

26 Case Study: Mossville, LA “Hot spots” = communities overburdened with more than their "fair" share of environmental contamination – Effects on reproductive health can be devastating, and persist across generations. – Facilities are overwhelmingly concentrated in communities of color, low-income communities, and indigenous communities. Mossville, Louisiana – Predominantly African-American community – 400 households, 14 industrial facilities, 4 million pounds of toxic chemicals annually – Largest concentration of vinyl plastic manufacturers in U.S. – Coal-fired power plant, oil refineries, and other chemical production facilities – Elevated levels of cancer-causing and endocrine-disrupting chemicals in their bodies, including levels of dioxin at 3 times the national average. Residents also report high rates of reproductive and other chronic and acute health problems

27 How Did We Get Here? Chemical companies keep making toxic products… and we keep buying them.

28 How Did We Get Here? The laws that regulate toxic chemicals are outdated and ineffective Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – Regulates: consumer products – Passed: 1976 – Flaws: no safety testing, little authority to regulate Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act – Regulates: personal care products – Passed: 1938 – Flaws: no testing, no recalls, incomplete labeling TSC A

29 How Did We Get Here?

30

31 What Can I Do? Learn More Protect Your Health Take Action!

32 Protect your health Be careful with plastics – Store food in glass, keep plastics out of the microwave Switch to non-toxic cleaners – Women’s Voices for the Earth: eenclean eenclean Find safer personal care products – EWG Cosmetics Safety Database:

33 It’s hard to know what’s safe.

34 Stop Toxic Chemicals at the Source Raise awareness - sponsor a screening – “Story of Cosmetics” viewing party: of-Cosmetics-viewingparty.pdfhttp://safecosmetics.org/downloads/Story- of-Cosmetics-viewingparty.pdf – “Living Downstream” documentary screening: Support Federal Legislation – Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (TSCA): – The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: Ask your representative to co-sponsor chemical policy reform! Link up with groups in your state – State Activities: Safer States Talk to RHJ advocates at conferences, events, meetings, etc.

35 Questions? Kimberly Inez McGuire Senior Associate for Programs and Policy, Reproductive Health Technologies Project, Contact RHTP for more information & ideas. Follow RHTP on Twitter! twitter.com/RHTPorg


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