The Tyranny of Reproductive "Justice"

Regis Nicoll
Regis Nicoll

Ever since Sandra Fluke made a splash at the congressional hearings on the Affordable Care Act, we’ve been hearing a lot about “reproductive justice.” Not so surprising, perhaps, given that Fluke is a past president of the Georgetown chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice.

But what is “reproductive justice”?

It strikes me as a rather strange pairing of words, for what does justice have to do with a basic biological function? And if reproductive justice exists, why not respirative, digestive, or cardio-vascular justice? If you find yourself similarly puzzled, SisterSong, a self-described “women of color” advocacy group, explains,

“Reproductive justice [is] the right to have children, not have children, and to parent the children we have in safe and healthy environments . . . based on the human right to make personal decisions about one’s life.”

And where is the right to have children, or not, a problem, outside of China with its “one-child” policy? Certainly not in the United States, where a 40 percent birth rate to unwed mothers is evidence that neither marital status, church teaching, nor social stigma is a barrier to those “personal decisions about one’s life.”

What’s more, with over 1 million abortions per year, even a woman who is carrying a child doesn’t have to bear it if she doesn’t want to—and that includes pregnant minors who can so decide, free from parental permission or notification.

Considering the recently passed legislation in New York City to restrict the sale of sugary drinks, maybe a bigger threat is to “dietary justice”—that is, “the right to drink, not to drink, and to enjoy the beverages of our choice.”

What about . . .

Conspicuously absent from the Cause is any mention of the other essential party in reproduction: men. For instance, SisterSong goes on to say that “the obligation of government and society to ensure that the conditions are suitable for implementing one’s decisions is important for women of color.” (Emphasis added). But not for men, or at least men of color?

What about the injustice to the man who has no legal recourse to oppose his girlfriend’s or wife’s decision to abort his child? What about the gender bias in a court system that awards child custody preferentially to mothers, even in cases where real differences in parental fitness and ability are documented? What about a health care law that requires women’s, but not men’s, contraception services to be provided for free?

True justice requires that if one party in the reproduction process is owed duty, so is the other. Applying “reproductive justice” exclusively to the “rights” of women is like applying criminal justice only to the rights of plaintiffs and not defendants, or vice versa.

Then there’s that “obligation of government and society” part. What about personal obligation? You know, the responsibility of individuals to control their passions and behaviors for their good and that of society, with particular concern in this case for those born, those waiting to be born, and those who could be born. Again, the Cause is silent.

What it is not silent about is the desire for sexual expression unencumbered by personal consequences and cost. Continue reading here...

Continue reading here...


Originally published November 13, 2012.

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