Reproductive Justice is“…the right to have children, not to have children, and to parent the children we have in safe and healthy environments. …Reproductive Justice addresses the social realities of inequality, specifically, the inequality of opportunities that we have to control our reproductive destiny. Our options for making choices have to be safe, affordable and accessible, three minimal cornerstones of government support for all individual life decisions.” (SisterSong.net)
The people of Canada, Quebec, and Aboriginal communities deserve access to the full scope of their human rights as protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In recent years this has not been the case for many Canadians, particularly those seeking to exercise their reproductive rights.
The lack of sexual and reproductive justice affects women and many of the most vulnerable members of society. Without the ability to delay, space, prevent, or terminate pregnancies, women and girls cannot plan their lives or achieve equality. Education and employment opportunities can be cut short by unplanned pregnancies, and by the lack of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and information. The right and ability to parent is often compromised or denied because of poverty, racism, violence, and lack of accessible childcare.
Reproductive justice recognizes that the sexual and reproductive health and rights of people from many diverse communities are disproportionately affected by marginalization and oppression, including the LGBTQ community (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer), Aboriginal communities, racialized communities, youth, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups. To ensure justice, fundamental inequalities must be addressed for all.
Reproductive justice needs in Canada cover a broad spectrum – just a few include:
- Universal childcare program
- National housing strategy
- Pay equity legislation
- Restoration of funding to women’s equality-seeking groups
- Inquiry into the murder and disappearance of Aboriginal women
- Better programs to address violence against women
- Restoration of the long gun registry
- Transgender people’s right to non-discriminatory access to healthcare and employment
- Restoration of Court Challenges Program
- Increased funding for contraception and family planning programs
- Foreign aid funding for safe abortion in Canada’s maternal health programs
Sponsors and Organizers: in May 2012, the Ontario Coalition of Abortion Clinics met to discuss a pan-Canadian action that would allow us to pro-actively address abortion access issues in Canada, along with an international focus to highlight the ongoing need for Canada to fund safe abortion and family planning in developing countries. Over the spring and summer, the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada built a nation-wide coalition of pro-choice groups, women’s groups, labour unions, healthcare advocates, and activists to plan and coordinate the day. We broadened the day to incorporate a Reproductive Justice framework, and plan to build on that framework in the future. We recognize that abortion rights are only one element of reproductive justice, which is a broad and inclusive movement that addresses diverse needs and issues related to sex and reproduction, and honours the voices and leadership of people of all colours in all cultures and communities.