Reproductive Justice, Past and Present

Please join the Women’s and Gender Studies Program for a panel series on “Reproductive Justice, Past and Present” on Monday, October 29th from 12pm to 2pm in the Alexander Room (EUC).

Guest Speakers:

Dr. Elena Rebecca Gutiérrez, University of Illinois, Chicago

“Latinas and Reproductive Justice: Issues and Organizing in the United States”

The talk will provide an overview the reproductive justice framework as created by women of color in the United States, highlighting examples from Latina organizing against birth control experimentation, for access to abortion, and freedom from sterilization abuse.

Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens, Queens College, CUNY

“Slavery and the Birth of American Gynecology”

Cooper Owens will explain how the institution of American slavery was directly linked to the creation of reproductive medicine in the U.S. She will provide context for how and why physicians denied black women their full humanity, yet valued them as “medical superbodies” highly suited for experimentation. In engaging with nineteenth-century ideas about so-called racial difference, she will shed light on the contemporary legacy of medical racism.​

Dr. Cythnia Greenlee, Rewire.News 

“The Unseen Partnership: Civil Rights and Reproductive Rights in Abortion Reform”

Abortion opponents often co-opt civil rights concepts and language to frame abortion as racial discrimination or even Black genocide. This messaging has a distinct historical trajectory, but obscures the deep and meaningful connections between abortion rights and civil rights activism before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973. This presentation will illuminate those connections in the work of two Southern women legislators who were each the first Black women to serve in their state legislatures: Georgia’s Grace Towns Hamilton, who got much of her political knowhow from work with the Urban League, and Dr. Dorothy Brown of Tennessee, a surgeon who had performed abortions or treated women suffering from complications from unsafe abortions. Strategically working their limited contacts as junior lawmakers and their platforms as pioneers, both women introduced key bills that moved the needle further toward decriminalizing abortion. And while their work focused on legal access and law as a tool for social change — which remain cornerstones of reproductive rights — their efforts to reform state abortion bans were informed by their knowledge of racial and reproductive injustice. Their approaches allow us to complicate white feminist origin stories about the fight that led to Roe; to think more broadly (and accurately) about Black and Southern participation in it; and to apply intersectionality to social movements.

Date(s) - Oct 29
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Alexander Room, EUC


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