reproductive justice


(This was written with a British audience in mind but I would think some of the issues are relevant in other countries too)

Over on the The F Word there’s a new post by Amity Reed of Fertilefeminism. I for one am really pleased about this. I really think British feminism has dropped the ball on issues surrounding motherhood and reproductive justice issues other than abortion. In my experience lots of feminists are anti mother and those that aren’t are clueless of the experiences, needs and oppressions of mothers. Feminist meetings and conferences often exclude mothers through price, lack of childcare and location and sometime just by not addressing anything to do with the needs of mothers. Because the mainstream feminist movement in Britain is overwhelmingly middle class white and able bodied even the women within it who are mothers have no idea of the needs and oppressions of working class, BME,[Women of Colour] and disabled mothers

Amity describes how she has

a feeling of exclusion from the ‘mainstream’ ranks of feminism is sometimes strong. Many mothers I have spoken to (both self-proclaimed feminists and otherwise) feel the same way. When an entire conference on reproductive rights doesn’t include a single workshop on birth; when stay-at-home mothers are denigrated for wasting their skills and educations; when so many resources are directed towards fighting strip clubs and lads’ mags but so little towards child poverty; when public spaces and services are made inaccessible and unwelcoming to families; when feminist books devote many more pages to the evils of pornography than the fact that mothers are disproportionately the ones suffering the monumental and adverse effects of the gender pay gap…it’s enough to make many mothers feel they’ve been forgotten by feminism, that their struggles are unimportant or inevitable.

and this is not okay, yes objectification of women is a feminist issues, but why the obsession with it? Why is that such an exclusive thing in the British feminist scene. I have a sneaking suspicion its because of the quick hit activism that it often involves, standing in a street protesting, signing a petition, sticking stickers and inserts in lad mags may make you feel good, like you’ve achieved something but it doesn’t entail getting your hands dirty, it doesn’t involve listening to and supporting real people (it should but that’s a whole other discussion)

there is a growing trend in the UK for young working class women with learning difficulties and/or mental health issues to be threatened with having their child taking away at birth and so few people are talking about this, we should be screaming about this, we should be part of the group that supports these women. We should be talking about how little parents on benefits have to live on, how difficult it is for mothers to go back in to education after they have children. We should be talking about child poverty, about the lack of flexibility in employment. We should be talking about the fact that children are taken into the foster care system when very often what their families needs is extra support (It cost £50,000 to keep a child in the care system for a year, it wouldn’t cost anywhere near that much to support a family in crises to keep them intact.) We should be talking about the lack of housing for families, despite all the empty properties, we should be talking more about the lack of funding in maternity and post natal care, we should be talking more about the fact women’s maternity choices are so often dismissed or curtailed

And at the base line we need to unpack the dominant concept of motherhood and the racism classism and ableism contained within that and the unexamined assumptions of what a good mother is and who deserves to be a mother that come along with it

cross posted from my other blog https://loveisnotafeeling.wordpress.com/

A social workers plea to potentialy adoptive parents explains that adoptive parenting is hard work.

But these issues became “too much for the family to handle,” so they send their daughter back into the child welfare system. Let me tell you something here: Adopting a child is not adopting a pet. A child is not a puppy from a rescue shelter and you take it home to see how it adapts to your environment or if it bites the other puppies or kitties and if the situation doesn’t work out, you can just take it back. When you adopt a child, that child becomes yours. That child is a part of your family. You can’t just “return” a child like a Wal-Mart purchase or a puppy that chewed the leg of your grandmother’s rocking chair.

If you had two biological children and one of them started displaying violence, threatening the life of their other biological sibling, constantly running away, or destroying your house, you would be hard pressed to convince me that you would disown your child and terminate your legal parental rights as their biological parent. You might remove the child from the other children and take the child to a more secure, structured environment like a residential treatment facility to address their mental health issues, and keep the other family members safe. But I highly doubt that you would give your child up and turn them over to the child welfare system.

Yet, for too many people, if your child is adopted and displayed these issues, it’s a different story. There is something so sick and disturbing about that, it makes me want to vomit.

A letter to my local protesters describes the experince of working in an abortion clinic in an anti abortion culture.

8. Because of you, when I leave the clinic, I look both ways exiting the door.

9. Because of you, when I leave or arrive at the clinic, I speedily get into the false safety of the building or my vehicle.

10. Because of you, when I drive home, I check my rear view window to see if I’m being followed.

11. Our doors are a little tighter. Our windows shut harder. Our curtains drawn darker.

12. Because of you, we can’t have normal glass. We have bullet proof glass.

13. Because of you, we have panic buttons.

14. Because of you, I may get a home security system. And I live in a very nice little neighborhood with no other need for a home security system.

15. I really think I hate you.

16. I want to spit on you when I see a woman weep (who was raped by her father; or found out her wanted pregnancy has anencephaly; or who just got her lights shut off because she can’t pay any bills, let alone keep another baby; who can die for our country in battle, but is about to get court marshalled if her country finds out she’s pregnant; or who slept with the wrong guy on the wrong day and realized she really wants to finish school and make something of herself; or who might even be your daughter or sister or niece or granddaughter) after listening to you scream at her, judge her, beg her not to have an abortion. FUCK you for hurting her.

God Doesn’t Do Adoption, Part 2 is one of the best refutations of christian adoption rhetoric I’ve ever read.

So yes. Paul says “adoption” right there in the Bible. He actually uses it a couple of times, but if one examines the text as written in the original Greek, one begins to understand that Paul didn’t mean “adoption” like the modern world means “adoption. ” His original Greek word huiothesia meant something else entirely.

The original Greek word in this scripture (and the others where Paul was translated as saying “adoption”) is huiothesia, derived from the huios (“a son”) and thesis (“a placing”), so literally the placing of/as a son. (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985).

The “placing as a son” imagery was something Paul and his readers of Galatia would have been entirely familiar with (Mitchell, 1993; Zanker, 1988). Basically, it was a ceremony that occurred within the Roman culture in which a male child of a citizen achieved the status of manhood. Prior to the ceremony, a son was considered to have the status of a slave in his father’s house (The Story of Civilization, Vol. 3: Caesar and Christ, 1972, p. 57), even though he had the potential to inherit his father’s wealth. The “placing as a son” ceremony occurred around a boy’s teen years, when his father determined it was time for him to pass from being a child (and under the absolute power of his father) into adulthood.

SAN FRANCISCO – A new study sheds light on a little-recognized form of abuse in which men use coercion and birth control sabotage to cause their partners to become pregnant against their wills. The study, published in the January issue of Contraception, finds this kind of reproductive control to be especially common in relationships in which women experience physical or sexual partner violence.

“Pregnancy Coercion, Intimate Partner Violence and Unintended Pregnancy” is the first quantitative examination of the relationship between intimate partner violence, reproductive coercion and unintended pregnancy. It finds that young women and teenage girls often face efforts by male partners to sabotage their birth control or coerce or pressure them to become pregnant – including by damaging condoms and destroying contraceptives. These behaviors, defined as “reproductive coercion,” are often associated with physical or sexual violence.

“We have known about the association between partner violence and unintended pregnancy for many years,” said Jay Silverman, the study’s senior author and an associate professor of society, human development and health in the Harvard School of Public Health. “What this study shows is that reproductive coercion likely explains why unintended pregnancies are far more common among abused women and teens.”

From Know More

We need to live in a world where women have absolute control over their bodies, a world where it is not only not okay for a man to force a woman to do something with her body that she doesn’t want to but also because it is unthinkable, a world in which the whole concept shouldn’t compute, a world in which domestic violence and partner abuse doesn’t happen not just because it is wrong but because it doesn’t make sense

more on this over at The Curvature

This is something I wrote about before

This is taken from the Telegraph

She has now been warned that she will only be allowed a few hours with her baby, which is due in January, before it is taken into foster care.
After hearing the news, Miss Robertson, of Dunfermline, Fife, who is 26 weeks pregnant, said: “I couldn’t believe it. I am so upset – I can’t stop crying.”
Mr McDougall, an artist, said he wants to take on full responsibility for his son but claims that he is powerless because he is not married to Miss Robertson.
He added: “Social Services are ruining our lives. As we are not married – because social workers would not let us marry – it seems I have no rights as a dad at all.
“Kerry’s gran is trying to apply for custody of Ben but social services have already told us it is unlikely she will be successful. We feel helpless.”

Luckily a slightly more recent report from GMTV suggest social services maybe backing down, but i still want people to know this is happening

Choice quotes from the video by Mark Goldring of Mencap

The starting point should be is it posible to keep the child with the family, and of course not just to look at Kerry, but to look at the support she also gets from her partner and from her wider circle of family and friends.

half of people with learning disabilities have their children taken into care, and we believe that many of those situations would be avoidable with relatively modest levels of support

People who are diferently abled need support in bringing their children up not punisment by having their children removed

The F word have a guest post, Say no to Eggsploitation! up explaining that the Human Fertilization And Embryology Authority is likely to overturn the ban on paying women for donating their eggs. This is exploitative because:

offering financial incentives to do something that very few women are currently offering to do because of the risks, will lead to poor women…being exposed to health risks, whilst only middle-class women who can afford the fees and the IVF industry will benefit. In Eastern Europe, there have already been a number of scandals in which women have died or been hospitalised after hormone treatment, in order to donate eggs to Western European ‘fertility tourists’.).

the post goes on to explain:

Feminists must make it clear that there is strong public opposition to the HFEA’s plan. Sadly, the feminist movement in Britain has historically failed to campaign on these issues, leaving an open field, for, of all people, the pro-life lobby to carry the banner of protection of women and against commercialisation of reproduction. It is time that this absurd situation changed.

This really gives me hope, I find it really frustrating that British feminists don’t talk about reproductive exploitation, that we don’t seem to have grasped the fact that middle class white western women do not deserve children at any cost even that of exploiting disadvantaged women.

Something else that often gets ignored in discussions around egg (and sperm) donation is that the “end products”, the people created by this method often have very strong feelings on this matter. We should be listening to their voices

Anyway the no2eggsploitation campaign have a blog Here which contains their contact info.

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