So, tonight I went to the opening plenary of the fantabulous Reproductive Justice For All: A U.S. Policy Conference that Smith College is hosting (a joint effort between the amazing Women's Studies department and Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts).
Tonight, there were three panelists:
Loretta Ross (who was one of the main kids in charge of making the March for Women's Lives in '04 such a huuuge success), Silvia Henriquez (of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health), and Karen Pearl (for those of you wayyyy out of the loop, the Interim Pres of PPFA).
It was amaaaazing.
Mainly, the discussion about using "reproductive justice" as a new way to frame the entire movement. Not just a buzzword to replace "reproductive rights" (the legal side) or "reproductive health" (the medical side), but a different avenue to take. It's not at all discounting the importance of these other ways to address the movement, and if what you concentrate on is strictly freedom of choice from a legal aspect, use "repro rights" or "pro choice." Same with "repro health." But reproductive justice takes this allll into consideration, from the human rights aspect to the accessibility differences to the cultural consciousness to the legal approach.
A fun fact: the US is one of the only countries (if not the only country) to see reproductive rights as a legal issue. Almost every other country takes the angle of human rights to ascertain women's rights. Why is it that we're so loath to acknowledge that maybe there are, in fact, human rights violations in this country?
Most of the conference's sessions are closed to the public, since the purpose of this is really to create potential policy initiatives. There are some absolutely fucking amazing people on my campus this weekend, from the remarkable panelists I listed before to Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) to representatives from Planned Parenthoods all over (even Hawaii!) and from NARAL and the Women's Health Project and Third Wave Foundation and Lambda Legal and NOW and National Network of Abortion Funds and SisterSong and Sisters on the Rise and so on and so forth.
And since I'm awesome enough to be a dedicated member of Vox (Voices for Choice, a Planned Parenthood affiliated campus group), I get to be a student volunteer to "watch the door" -- basically, lay the smack down on people who try to get in w/o name tags and then sit in on the meetings, just inside the door.
Ohhhhh Smith, how I love you more and more.