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North Carolina is a state with a rich history of reproductive struggle.  As one of the only states with a eugenics program that survived WWII and thrived into the late 70’s, we stand a relic, a link to the often-forgotten past – the last page in an unsettling chapter of our nation’s history.  While some might claim that “it was a different time then” and “nothing like that would ever happen now,”  NC is home to an estimated 1,500 – 2,000 living survivors of sterilization by the state who were recently denied compensation for said travesty just this past summer.   An estimated total of 7,500 people were either coerced into consent, forced by law, or were simply sterilized with out their knowledge during otherwise routine procedures, like, say – childbirth – during the reign of the NC Eugenics Board.

At the same time that mostly poor women of color were being preyed upon by “public health” officials, white women of the day were being denied sterilization because 1) they were the ideal race 2) their husbands wanted kids/more kids.

That being said, apparently, NC was fairly progressive in terms of abortion access some six years before the days of Roe v. Wade, though I cannot guarantee the purity of their intentions  – I honestly think it was somehow related to the eugenics program, but maybe I am paranoid.  A quick google search could probably solve this.  OH YEAH – and not only did they have this abortion access, though limited, that allowed for  “women to have abortions in cases of rape, incest, fetal abnormality, and when the woman’s health was endangered,” but they also set up a state abortion fund subsequent to the passage of Roe v. Wade when the Hyde amendment removed the affordability portion of the concept of “access” by barring medicaid from covering the procedure.  Jerks.

For those of you unfamiliar with the recent goings -on of the NC general assembly, the still-contested Women’s Right to Know Act, one of the multitudes of misnomers in the anti-choice effort, forces women and other people seeking abortion services to submit to government mandated, biased, BULL SHIT reading of “information” that has no basis in medical practice.  They must endure a waiting period that requires a patient make 2 visits and potentially, depending on which judge this matter falls to (its under an injunction), hear the heartbeat/endure a description of the fetus.  Yay.

I’m not a fan of the two-party system, but I can say honestly that this attack rests squarely on the shoulders of the Republican party and those asses need to cut the crap.  There I said it.

So — this little rant here, this is just a brief glossing over of NC, and I am sad to say that there are plenty of states whose histories and recent news lines read the same.  For instance, thanks to the efforts of anti-choice lawmakers and lobbyists, the closing of the last abortion clinic in Mississippi looks at this juncture to be an inevitability.  If you’ve checked out Mississippi’s poverty rates recently……nvm.  Logic won’t work this time.

And as if this all wasn’t enough to remind us of the need to fight to full reproductive choice and continue the struggle for reproductive justice for all……Check out what I found on DemocracyNOW

“A new study shows hundreds of women in the United States have been arrested, forced to undergo unwanted medical procedures, and locked up in jails or psychiatric institutions, because they were pregnant. National Advocates for Pregnant Women found 413 cases when pregnant women were deprived of their physical liberty between 1973, when Roe v. Wade was decided, and 2005. At least 250 more interventions have taken place since then. In one case, a court ordered a critically ill woman in Washington, D.C., to undergo a C-section against her will. Neither she nor the baby survived. In another case, a judge in Ohio kept a woman imprisoned to prevent her from having an abortion.”

I put a link down at the bottom there if ya wanna check out the interview in its entirety.

“So what is the point of this post?!?” you ask.  Well – I guess I wanted to illustrate that the fight for “choice” and the right to abortion is important – but only if it is considered as a part of the larger language of the reproductive justice framework.  The history of our country, and of states like NC in particular, exemplifies the need to consider the multiple stories and relationships that women and other people have had to this concept of “choice.”

As usual, SisterSong puts it best:

“The reproductive justice framework – the right to have children, not have children, and to parent the children we have in safe and healthy environments — is based on the human right to make personal decisions about one’s life, and the obligation of government and society to ensure that the conditions are suitable for implementing one’s decisions.”

So while defending access to abortion is important, please consider it just one of many other issues that need tackling in order to expand full reproductive choice for all people.

There are a number of intersections that I did not address, as I had intended this be a short piece to commemorate and remind, but consider, too, how issues related to freedom to adequate and safe housing, water, soil, air, nutritious and affordable food, healthcare, employment, leisure – ALL of these things should be considered when we utter this word: CHOICE.



Just so y’all know……
This Wednesday SURJ and FSU will be hosting a screening of the one, the only — Jane: An Abortion Service

If you haven’t heard…….

“JANE: AN ABORTION SERVICE, is a fascinating documentary about a secret, women-run abortion service that flourished in the midwest in the late ’60s and early ’70s during a time of illegal, and often deadly abortions. A Sundance Film Festival selection, JANE: AN ABORTION SERVICE was produced and directed by Kate Kirtz and Nell Lundy.

For the first time, the story of JANE is told by those who operated and were served by the collective, most of whom have never spoken publicly about JANE before. “If you needed an abortion, for whatever reason, you took your life into your own hands – and you were terrified, absolutely terrified,” recounts a member of the collective of the late 1960s. “All you knew is that you might die, that this person didn’t know what he was doing and you were going to pay hundreds of dollars…to bleed to death in some hotel room.”Heather Booth, then a student at the University of Chicago involved in civil rights and antiwar movements, found herself sought out by a few young women who were pregnant, scared, and desperate. They had somehow heard that Booth knew of a safe abortionist. Soon others began to call, prompting Booth and several other young feminists to found JANE, an anonymous abortion service that provided counseling and acted as the go-between for pregnant women and doctors willing to perform the procedure.Appalled at the exorbitant procedure fees and upon discovering that their main abortionist wasn’t a licensed physician, the women of JANE learned to perform illegal abortions themselves. Eventually, the underground collective performed over 12,000 safe, affordable abortions. Word of the illegal alternative was spread through word-of-mouth, cryptic advertisements, and even by members of Chicago’s police, clergy, and medical establishment.Little remains to document the organization’s clandestine existence. Most of JANE’s records were destroyed to protect the participants, leaving the women themselves to tell their stories. JANE: AN ABORTION SERVICE utilizes in-depth interviews, archival footage, and the few remaining personal effects to bare witness and illuminate this once-hidden refuge.”

WOW. That is some BADASSSHIT.
Check out the FB event if you like: – I will make this a link later when I’m not already late for something
OH – and did I mention there would be FREE PIZZA?

Seating is limited: REGISTER NOW

The goal of the Carolina Reproductive Justice Conference is to expose student activists championing various causes to the Reproductive Justice framework which we hope will provide the foundation to see how our “disparate” causes are in fact intersectional.

We aim to give our community a more inclusive lens through which we can view our own work and the work of others. Through this lens, we can come together to support one another, build strong cross-issue coalitions, and gain power as a collective voice and champion for all social justice issues.

As Students United for Reproductive Justice is invested in the reproductive health, rights and justice of all people, we want our fellow campus organizers and activists to understand how the issues that they champion–racial, economic, environmental, political etc.–also have a strong affect on people’s reproductive health and reproductive freedom.So come, one and all, for a day of workshops, speakers, and solidarity. Space for this conference is limited, so please REGISTER AS SOON AS YOU ARE ABLE


Feminist Students United (FSU) is a progressive feminist organization which affirms that no form of oppression can be overcome until all aspects of racism, classism, sexism, and heterosexism are dismantled. We acknowledge intersecting identities and strive to be mindful of these intersections in all our work. We endeavor to create an environment which is non-hierarchical and supportive in nature, and we work to bring about change in our community through education, outreach, direct action and community organizing.

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