This was the most challenging issue of Population Connection’s magazine that I have overseen in my eleven years as editor. It was challenging to my brain in terms of learning everything I didn’t know I didn’t know about the Reproductive Justice (RJ) framework. It was challenging to my psyche in that much of that framework is suspicious, at best, of the intentions of programs that work toward population stabilization. And it was challenging to my sanity because there was so much content we wanted to include that we expanded this issue by eight pages right before the print deadline.
My hope in tackling reproductive justice in Population Connection magazine is that our readers will learn something new, as I did; that you will read the articles with an open mind; and that you will reassure yourself that we all just want to do and support what’s best for people, and the planet.
It can be difficult to come to grips with the mistakes and misdeeds that were done in the name of “population control” in the twentieth century. But the unfortunate reality is that they are part of the population movement’s history, and the people who were affected by forced sterilization, coerced acceptance of long-acting contraceptives, and non-consensual medical experimentation are still hurting today.
For nearly three decades now, population programs have been rooted in a dedication to voluntarism, informed consent, and the upholding of human rights. Family planning is shared with marginalized communities as a tool of empowerment, not oppression.
I interviewed Loretta Ross, the person who coined the term reproductive justice and who co-founded the RJ movement and the organization SisterSong. An article about her life, her recent publications, and our differences when it comes to our outlook on population issues begins on page 20.
Jamila Perritt, MD, contributed an original article about extending the RJ framework to her work with her OB/GYN patients. Dr. Perritt was the keynote speaker for Capitol Hill Days 2017 and her stories about racial inequities in the healthcare system were so moving that she was the first person I thought of when I was looking for article authors for this issue.
Our new Board Chair, Estelle Raboni, discusses the teen pregnancy prevention program she runs for vulnerable youth in New York City, and what the impending cut in federal funding will mean for the program. An article about a similar program in Nevada follows. Finally, we have an article by a member of our Population Education staff and another by three members of our Field team who led a session together at SisterSong’s twentieth anniversary conference last fall.
This issue is a bear, but if you can get through it, I’m confident you’ll come out the other end a more informed and empathetic advocate for reproductive health and rights — in all its forms — for everyone, everywhere.