Policy Brief: Healthcare: Reproductive Justice
Position: The Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of New Jersey, representing the Unitarian Universalist congregations in New Jersey, supports healthcare and reproductive justice for all women. Reproductive justice, a concept put forth by coalitions of women of color, promotes the right of all women to have children, not to have children, and to raise their children in safe and healthy environments. The foundation for the UULMNJ’s support for reproductive justice is rooted in the Unitarian Universalist principle that affirms and promotes the inherent worth and dignity of every person. We value life and the consciences of individuals, and we are called to protect and affirm the lives of women when it comes to their reproductive choices. The right to have children, not to have children, and to parent children in safe and healthy environments is a basic human right and we call upon our legislators to ensure that equitable, accessible, and affordable health services are provided to all of New Jersey’s residents.
Background: The Unitarian Universalist involvement in the cause of reproductive justice began fifty years ago due to the issue being aligned with UU principles and being a core Human Rights issue. UU’s have been on the frontline of women’s reproductive rights and anti-racism work for decades. The goal of the “reproductive rights/choice” framework is the protection of a woman’s right to reproductive health care services, particularly contraceptives and abortion.
The legal basis for women’s reproductive rights emerges from the right to privacy (Roe v. Wade, U.S. Supreme Court, 1973). Attendant to the social inequalities which impact health disparities and shape the lives of marginalized women, the “reproductive justice” framework evolved from “reproductive rights” and was first created by women of color to work against “reproductive oppression” – the exploitation of women, girls, and others through their reproduction, labor and sexuality.
Reproductive justice has four goals:
- the raising of children in safe and healthy environments,
- planned and healthy pregnancies,
- ending or avoidance of unwanted pregnancies, and
- expression of sexuality.
It works to address the myriad issues facing women in the context of their reproductive lives.