By Danielle M. Pacia
When conceptualizing the pursuit of reproductive freedom, we must acknowledge the ways that our systems and structures fail Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) populations.
2020 has been a year filled with anxiety and anger over the COVID-19 pandemic’s disproportionate negative effects on BIPOC populations. Black Lives Matter protests after the unjust deaths of Breonna Taylor, Mia Green, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Riah Milton, and many others whose lives ended far too soon have prompted an overdue awakening. This has caused some to reexamine racism on a personal and institutional level. Like many disciplines in our country, the field of bioethics has begun to recognize how the field reinforces racism within its scholarship.
Part of this effort includes a critical examination of the frameworks we employ when analyzing bioethical subjects and events, and how they may exclude the historical contributions and narratives of BIPOC populations. Merely acknowledging racism is not enough.
Here, I will explain the differences in the terms reproductive justice and reproductive rights and advocate use of the reproductive justice framework instead of the reproductive rights framework. Within bioethics and health law policy, there is often a lack of clarity between the terms, which, in turn, leaves their important conceptual and historical differences ignored.