Reproductive justice refers to an individual’s social, political, and economic power to make empowering and healthy choices regarding their sexual and reproductive health. This includes access to affordable and supportive care providers that support women’s autonomy to make decisions about when and if to have children and ability to parent the children in a safe community, as well as the availability of services that are responsive to people’s sexual orientation and gender identity. An equitable reproductive justice system promotes health by ensuring access to comprehensive care options and recognizing that reproductive oppression affects individuals differently based on their identity.
Disparities and Statistics
Race and Ethnicity: Under the ACA, the proportion of Black and Hispanic women of reproductive age without health insurance fell by 36% and 31%, respectively. These declines were driven by gains in private coverage and, in particular, the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. Women of color are disproportionately likely to be insured through Medicaid: 31% of Black women and 27% of Hispanic women aged 15–44 were enrolled in Medicaid in 2015, compared with 16% of white women.³⁸
Socioeconomic Status: Low-income women tend to get their contraception dispensed from the same reproductive health care clinics that are being shut down. Further, of all women obtaining abortions, 42% are living below the federal poverty level of $10,830 for a single woman without children. Another 37% live between 100% and 199% of the federal poverty level. Women denied the abortions they seek are three times more likely to be living in poverty two years later.³⁹
Health: The medical benefits alone of contraceptive and maternal health services and services related to STIs comprise a lengthy and compelling list. This includes the prevention of high-risk pregnancies, unsafe abortion and its complications, obstetric complications, cancers of the reproductive system and deaths to AIDS. These services also contribute to improved nutrition for women and their children, decreased risk of anemia and infertility for women, and increased survival rates and better health for infants.⁴⁰