Sterilization Abuse Isn’t a Relic of the Past

Candace Gibson, Resident Blogger (’12, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law)

As many scholars have noted, laws that were passed to involuntarily sterilize those who were poor, those with disabilities, those institutionalized, and those deemed “sexually promiscuous” and others during the beginning of the century also impacted women of color.

In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt began to fear “race suicide” or that “Yankee ‘stock’ …. would be overwhelmed, numerically and hence politically, by immigrants, nonwhites, and the poor.”

Latinas were impacted on the continental United States as well as in Puerto Rico during the first half of the twentieth century. U.S. policy promoted permanent sterilization in Puerto Rico through door to door visits by health workers, financial subsidies, and employers favoring sterilized women in the hiring process.

Things hadn’t changed much by the seventies.  In Madrigal v. Quilligan, it came to light that medical practitioners at Los Angeles County Medical Center coerced low-income, immigrant women into sterilization within hours of giving birth.  One plaintiff, Maria Hurtado, described her situation: “I was told through a Spanish-speaking nurse, that the state of California did not permit a woman to undergo more than three caesarean section operations, and since this was my third, the doctor would have to do something to prevent me from having another caesarean operation.  They did not explain or describe the tubal ligation, and it was later performed on me without my knowledge or consent.” When the case was decided in 1978, the judge ruled that the practitioners had acted in good faith and without intent to harm.

Latinas in California’s mental health facilities were also subjected to sterilization abuse because they were labeled feeble-minded or because their parents could not support them or for other arbitrary reasons.  However, these women shared similar characteristics: they were of Mexican origin, they had little access to education, and their families migrated back and forth to the United States. This story of abuse started in 1909 and lasted until 1979.

To this day, advocates are hearing stories of abuse and coercion when women are in the hands of the state for their care.

During this past summer, it was reported that 132 women incarcerated in the California prison system were forcibly sterilized between 2006 to 2010.  As you can imagine, many of the women were women of color.  In 2010, Latinas and African-American women made up 59% of the California prison system and these numbers are indicative of the national trend of low income women and women of color serving time in prison for non-violent offenses.  The providers who sterilized these women assumed that these women were repeat offenders or believed these women should no longer parent because they had multiple children.  Many of the women went in for various reproductive health care needs and were misled to believe that sterilization was their only option for treatment.  It is disappointing that these women were deemed to have no dignity or autonomy by their providers. It is more distressing that the mainstream reproductive rights movement has forgotten about these women even though correctional institutions are the second largest provider of reproductive health services in this country.

The situation of these women and their families reminds us that we are a long way off from the right to parent and the social supports needed to actualize this right for many persons in this country.

Do you know about the Helms Amendment?

Candace Gibson, Resident Blogger (’12, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law)

Many of us know about the Hyde Amendment, but do you know about the Helms Amendment?  The Helms Amendment was passed in 1973 to the Foreign Assistance Act, restricting abortion funding abroad. Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary – here are the top 5 things you need to know about how it hurts women globally.

  1. Both the Helms Amendment and the Hyde Amendment are restrictions on abortion care that deny women at home and abroad the care they need.  Both were passed soon after Roe v. Wade became law.
  2.  The Helms Amendment attaches restrictions on abortion care to overseas federal funding.  It not only withholds access to safe abortion services but it also denies women information on abortion care.  Millions of women rely on U.S. funded programs in their countries for their reproductive health care.
  3. The Helms Amendment contributes to 47,000 deaths each year because women are forced to seek unsafe abortion services.
  4. Unfortunately, the Helms Amendment has also negatively impacted efforts to increase the use of contraception for women who would like to begin a contraception regimen after seeking abortion services.  Studies show that women are more likely to use contraception following abortion care when family planning services are offered at the same facility where they received abortion services.  Due to the Helms Amendment, women must find family planning counseling and services at another facility, lessening their ability to receive contraception.
  5.  Latinas in the developing world are greatly affected by the Helms Amendment because it deincentivizes efforts to decriminalize or legalize abortion care.  For instance, 18 states in Mexico have passed constitutional amendments that declare the sanctity of life since conception.  In these 18 states, women will not be able to get the care they need because they are less likely to have providers who are not receiving U.S. funding.

For more information, check out this factsheet by our friends at Ipas.

Reproductive Justice as Self-Determination

Ruth Dawson, Resident Blogger (’12, Emory University School of Law)

A report recently came out about the conditions of women members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country’s biggest rebel group.  Though there is a “veneer of [gender] equality” in the organization, the report tells horrific stories of women, including young teenagers, forced to receive contraceptive shots and forbidden from having children.  Perhaps most sickening are the accounts of FARC women being forced to have abortions, or losing their infants to infanticide, in the instances when they did become pregnant.

But I am not disgusted by the bare fact that the women had abortions or used contraception.  Instead, as a reproductive justice advocate, I am most deeply troubled by the way these women were stripped of agency.  Forced contraception, forced abortion, and – not unlikely – forced sex, all strip women of self-determination.

Reproductive justice encompasses far more than the affirmative right to access birth control or abortion, as many opponents seem to believe.  Instead, RJ is about all people deciding if they want to have children, and if so, when and how to have and raise them.  Reproductive justice represents a broad universe of control over one’s own body, and over one’s self.  And that control goes in both directions.  The key to reproductive justice, then, is not just that people are using birth control, or that people are having abortions.  Rather, it is that individuals are making these decisions, unforced and uncoerced, for themselves.

For Immigrant Women, Health Care Remains Out of Reach

This article was published by The National Women’s Health Network.

Candace Gibson is the Law Students for Reproductive Justice Second Year Fellow at National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, a Steering Committee Member of the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights.

Early this year, I heard Sophia’s story, and it has stuck with me ever since. Sophia is an undocumented Latina immigrant living in Texas. Because of her immigration status, she is locked out of our health care system. Neither her nor her husband’s employer offers health insurance and, although Sophia’s family would qualify for Medicaid coverage on the basis of income, they are barred from participating in the program because they are undocumented. They are too afraid to enroll their children, who are U.S. citizens. While a handful of Texas clinics serve undocumented women’s health needs, none are easy to get to, and even the sliding scale fees are beyond Sophia’s reach.

A few years ago, Sophia experienced a painful gynecological problem and needed care. Without options, however, she suffered without care until she finally became desperate. Eventually, she was forced to cross the border into Mexico to seek care there; pay a coyote to bring her back into the U.S. by swimming across the Rio Grande; and risk the dangers of sexual assault, violence, and deportation.

Because immigrant women often live in the shadows, it is hard to know how many share Sophia’s story — but we do know that millions of immigrant women share her circumstances. As Congress debates immigration reform, many women’s health advocates and immigrants are watching closely to see how reform efforts might address this population’s barriers to accessing health care. Unfortunately, the proposals currently under consideration in the U.S. House and Senate perpetuate — and even exacerbate — these barriers, making stories like Sophia’s the heartbreaking status quo of immigrant women in the United States.

A Troubling History

Immigrants have long faced restrictions in accessing health insurance and services, but a proliferation of policies in the last few decades have made access even harder. In 1996, Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA, more commonly known as “welfare reform”). PRWORA instituted a mandatory five-year delay for lawfully present immigrant women who qualify for Medicaid to get covered. So, an immigrant woman with legal permanent resident (LPR) status has to wait for five years before she can get Medicaid coverage.

The 2009 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, also called “Obamacare”) explicitly left immigrant families out of the expansion of health care access for millions of Americans. Under the ACA, undocumented women cannot receive subsidies or tax credits to participate in the Health Insurance Marketplaces, and they are barred from buying plans at full price (although it is not likely many could afford to do so).i This restriction undermines the ACA’s spirit, which was to ensure access to quality, affordable health care for all uninsured people in this country.

One of the few ways an immigrant woman can get limited health care, for a limited amount of time, is if her state is one of the few that has opted to use its own funds to provide Medicaid coverage for pregnant, immigrant, low-income women. In 15 states all immigrant women qualify for coverage, regardless of their immigration status; in another 20 states, only LPR women are eligible.ii A major problem with this policy is that the health coverage is limited to care directly related to the pregnancy, so a woman with an unrelated health condition (like a broken bone) cannot get care for that condition.

Immigration Reform Debate Leaves Health Care Behind

Earlier this year, and after months of intense negotiation, the U.S. Senate passed a historic comprehensive immigration reform bill. The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S. 744) provides a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented people and addresses several of the immigrant communities’ key concerns. Yet, the bill also includes severe restrictions on health coverage for the very immigrant families it seeks to bring out of the shadows. S. 744 adds to PRWORA’s terrible legacy by withholding health care for people on the pathway to citizenship for up to 15 years.iii  The law requires aspiring citizens to pay taxes, fees, and penalties; take English classes, which are hard to find in many communities; demonstrate regular employment, which is challenging in this economy; as well as other requirements. During this 15-year timeframe, they are excluded from affordable health care.iv

We should note that several lawmakers championed immigrant women’s health and well-being during the Senate debate, including Senators Hirono (D-HI), Boxer (D-CA), Leahy (D-VT), and Murray (D-WA). Senator Hirono introduced the “Taxpayer Fairness” amendment (ultimately withdrawn), which would have prevented any immigrant woman who fulfilled her tax obligations from being barred from Federal programs, including health programs, based on her immigration status.v

Under the Senate bill, immigrant women on the path to citizenship would be denied access to Medicaid services for 15 years (or longer if their change in status is delayed), which could be the difference between life and death for a woman with breast or cervical cancer. For many immigrant women, getting — and staying — on this path to citizenship will be a daunting challenge. Many will not be able to achieve it. Meanwhile, their health and that of their families will be in jeopardy.

The Fight Isn’t Over Yet

The current national conversation about immigration reform largely fails to recognize the contributions that immigrant women make to their families, communities, and our nation’s economy, or the vital need for them to be able to access health care. The good news is that there is a crucial window of opportunity to influence the nation’s discourse and policies on immigration reform. As the House of Representatives considers several proposals for immigration reform, it is critical that policymakers hear from women (immigrant and citizen alike) who believe that access to health care is a human right and should not be restricted simply because of a person’s birthplace.

If you believe that immigrant women are the backbone of their families and their communities, please stand with the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights’ efforts to ensure they get the health care they need. Join our Congressional postcard campaign, “I’m Fighting #4immigrantwomen,” athttp://nciwr.org/campaigns/im_fighting_for. Learn more about how you can support immigrant women’s health and rights, by following us online (www.nciwr.org) or on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/NCIWR). After all, would you want your mother or sister to wait 15 years to see their doctor?


i. National Immigration Law Center Website. “Immigrants and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).” Los Angeles, CA: National Immigration Law Center. March 2013. Retrieved September 15, 2013 fromhttp://nilc.org/immigrantshcr.html.

ii. Hassedt K. “Toward Equity and Access: Removing Legal Barriers to Health Insurance     Coverage for Immigrants.” Guttmacher Policy Review Winter 2013; 16:2-8. Retrieved October   1, 2013 fromhttp://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/gpr/16/1/gpr160102.html.

iii.  National Immigration Law Center Website. “The Senate Immigration Reform Bill (S.744) What’s Good, What’s Bad.” Los Angeles, CA: National Immigration Law Center. July 11, 2013. Retrieved September 15, 2013 from http://nilc.org/s744goodbadtable.html.

iv.  National Immigration Law Center Website. “The Senate Immigration Reform Bill (S.744) What’s Good, What’s Bad.” Los Angeles, CA: National Immigration Law Center. July 11, 2013. Retrieved September 15, 2013 from http://nilc.org/s744goodbadtable.html.

v.  Sen. Mazie Hirono, Press Release: Hirono Introduces Amendment to Immigration Bill to Fix Provisions that Unfairly Penalize Immigrant Taxpayers, Washington, D.C.: US Senate, June 18, 2013. Available online at: http://www.hirono.senate.gov/press-releases/hirono-introduces-amendment-… last visited September 15, 2013.

Channeling Human Trafficking Survivors

Amanda Shapiro, Resident Blogger (’15, Brooklyn Law School)

New York announced that it will be among the first to create specialized courts for human trafficking and prostitution.  This move is indeed a step in the right direction.  Human trafficking has achieved celebrity status in human rights reform – likely because there aren’t many sympathetic defenses to “modern slavery” (e.g.,“Oh, whoops, I just forgot to pay my cleaning lady while I kept her in my basement for the past eight years” doesn’t fly too well in federal court).

However, the path to justice for victims of sex trafficking is complex.  We know (as The West Wing aptly noted) that no little girl says, “I want to be a prostitute when I grow up.”  And yet, the way the criminal justice system treats prostitutes would lead anyone to improperly deduce this motive.  This inference is so strong that it trickles into punishing children who are forced into sexual exploitation for money (most or all of which they don’t get).  Somehow, states find no problem in punishing children for prostitution, while contemporaneously declaring their inability to consent to sex (in statutory rape), their inability to enter into a contract (in contracts), and their inability to work (in child labor).

Proving that human trafficking is afoot requires “force, fraud, or coercion” – this burden does not seem high, but in practicality can be insurmountable.  “Pimps” use a grooming process (like that of pedophiles) for both children and women.  This tactic can even lead to victims defending their trafficker.  Despite New York’s laudable step, the trafficking courts will continue processing prostitutes through the criminal system (aka prosecuting them). Courts would do well to remind themselves, in considering “force,” that girls grow up wanting to be doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc., rather than an object of commercial sexual exploitation.

Stand Up California!

Erin Panichkul, LSRJ Summer Intern (’15, Thomas Jefferson School of Law)

Isn’t California known for its progressive ideologies? Don’t we pride ourselves by leading other states in protecting the sanctity of basic rights? Last I checked California wasn’t known for discriminating against lower class families, mothers, and newborns. So why does the Maximum Family Grant (MFG) aka the “family cap” still exist? California is sending a message that poor people shouldn’t have any more children, a true reproductive inequality.

MFG is a program limitation that will NOT cover any additional funding for additional children born to a family that has been receiving CALWORKS for the past 10 months. Essentially, families who need the most help and are currently receiving aid, have the most limited options available when it comes to family planning and reproductive choices. The additional funding is minimal but to some families, it makes a world of a difference. MFG hurts real California families.

 “People think the worst of you when you are poor. They think you are less of a mom and that you are a bad mom if you choose to bring children into the world when you are poor. Even more insulting is the idea that poor women like me are controlled by money more than we are liberated by our emotions, experience, and sense of knowing what is right for our families.” – Melissa Ortiz

California’s government has demonized struggling mothers like Melissa. Are we systematically forcing struggling women to choose abortion when they don’t want to or  leave a newborn without proper health care and nutrition due to lack of access to aid? What’s next, forced sterilization of the lower class? Reproductive decision-making is not a privilege; it’s an individual right that California should protect! Why? Because ALL families matter!

MFG is fundamentally wrong and a true injustice to all California families. It’s a form of reproductive oppression and coercion based solely on income. Bottom line: The amount of money a woman has or doesn’t have should not be the main factor in making decisions about the outcome of her pregnancy, including abortion, and giving birth.

California, we can stand up for the rights of all families! Show your love and support for Melissa and all California mothers by supporting AB 271 (Mitchell), a bill to repeal MFG in California.

Abortion isn’t my story. But it’s an important part of it.

Ash Moore, Resident Blogger (’14, University of Oklahoma College of Law)

It is the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I’m in law school so you may think you’re about to be bombarded with legalese and a disconnected opinion. But I have a different and important perspective – a personal one.

When I was a teenager, I was raped. Gang raped. And as cliche and trite as it has become, I was ashamed and felt like it was my fault. So, despite my better judgment, the first thing I did was take a hot shower. I washed away all evidence of the crime even though I knew exactly what I was doing. After the shower, I went in to denial. I tried to pretend like it didn’t happen. I didn’t get tested for STDs and I didn’t do anything about a potential pregnancy.

Then, in a couple of months when I started throwing up and feeling like I was getting fatter, reality set in with a vengeance and brought sheer terror with it. I didn’t know anything about pregnancy except how it came about and I knew it was a possibility.

At that point, I was more determined not to tell anyone than I was before. What if they didn’t believe me? Or what if they did and they were furious I did everything I wasn’t supposed to do? Either way, what was I going to do if I was really pregnant? I knew abortion was an option, but I didn’t want to kill something growing inside me.

I could give a baby up for adoption, but my life would be permanently changed and maybe ruined in the meantime. I didn’t know if that option was selfish, but I didn’t make a mistake, this was forced on me. Couldn’t I put myself first for a second?

I could keep the baby. But I truly believed that wouldn’t be the best thing for the baby. I wouldn’t be able to give it the kind of life it deserved. I would struggle, not have money, and be a young parent (with or without help) which is hard on the people I knew who had young parents.

Whether you think it was right or wrong, abortion was a huge part of the decision process. And the longer I thought about it, the more it seemed like the most rational and right choice. I’m deeply religious and that caused a huge problem and huge internal struggle. Would God understand? Would He approve? Would I be condemned? I knew no matter what decision I made, I would never be the same again.

Most people agree that abortion should be available for rape victims. So I wasn’t in the same position as the women struggling with restricted rights today. But what was the same was the excruciating decision process and fear. What the pregnancy test result was and what I ultimately decided are irrelevant.

What is relevant was that I had a tough decision to make and no matter what I decided, more options made the tortuous experience a little easier. It made me feel like others had struggled and came to the same decision I did; no matter what I chose, I knew I would never blame or fault anyone for making a different one in that impossible situation.

No matter how someone gets to the point where they need to make a decision regarding a pregnancy (through rape, mistake, health or money problems, or other things I may not be able to think about right now), I believe all the choices I had should be available to every other woman (and more if we can find them).

I think access to all the choices should be easy because the decision making process is hard enough. I think most women probably walk in to a doctor’s office or adoption agency after as much thought, pain, and tears as I went through. Any obstacles to make these personal decisions harder are cruel and unusual punishment.

If abortion is the ultimate decision, I believe no doctor or spectator has a better idea of the heartbeat about to stop than the woman who has to live with the decision. As you can see, abortion isn’t my story. But it’s an important part of it. And it’s an important part of society. No matter what you would choose, imagine, as I did, the process without one or more of the choices.  Then look me in the eye and tell me you want to do that to another living, breathing, caring, concerned person who is only trying to think about the best decision she can make for herself and her family. It should never be harder than it was for me. Or you. If you know the feeling.

Storytelling and a Reflection of RJ Blog Posts Past

Rosie Wang, Columbia

Culture is to softness as is policy to hardness. Cultural change is to a wave as legal change is to a solid object. No, this is not the return of the ye olde standardized testing analogies but some of the concepts used today at a storytelling workshop that explained the role of stories in the RJ movement. Basically, stories are engines of change for public sentiment, and subsequently political reality. Awesome, but admittedly, also a bit abstract to me. What made it click on a new level for me was Sujatha Jesudason of CoreAlign’s truly powerful closing talk to the LI. She said that to survive, the reproductive justice movement had to break its bad habits. This included no longer telling stories of victimhood, and instead writing a heroic narrative, in which the heroes include all people as people who have agency in their reproductive lives. She said that the RJ movement must craft something akin to Rosa Parks’ story, something both familiar in its everyday aspect, and yet with lasting potential for symbolism and parable. Looking back on the stories that I have helped tell this summer via this blog, I see myself falling into this very trap of bad habits. Writing about Bei Bei Shuai, a woman being charged with murder and feticide for attempting suicide while pregnant and mentally ill, I wrote that “her story demonstrates how even women who have conformed to the mainstream can become victimized.” And yet Ms. Shuai is a hero to me for facing with optimism and strength a legal system designed treat her body as first and foremost life support vessel for her fetus. But this is story that is yet unresolved, where victory is uncertain –how can it be a success story and not something reactionary? I concluded that the narrative of someone acted upon and then acting in response is not victimizing or teleological. Instead, it is empowering and can do important work in touching upon people’s common sense of humanity. I think it also serves as a rallying cry to people devoted to RJ to support Ms. Shaui in determining the course of her own heroic narrative. Because while anti-choice has it easy in that they can frame decades of reproductive oppression and the status quo as “tradition” for the dominant story they tell, we get to write our own rallying cry from scratch, with the very work we do every day.

 

 

The American Dream, Interrupted.

Rosie Wang, LSRJ Summer Legal Intern

In many ways Bei Bei Shuai’s story sounds like my mom’s. Both women were raised in large Chinese cities, in households where both parents worked. Both came to the United States, following partners with promising job prospects. Both worked in Chinese restaurants while harboring plans to improve their English and get graduate degrees. It’s the story of many Chinese immigrant women, but Ms. Shuai’s narrative diverged when, at eight months pregnant, she was abandoned by her boyfriend who, it turns out, had another family.

Suffering from major depression, Ms. Shuai ingested rat poison as a suicide attempt and was rushed to the hospital by friends. She consented to all treatment to save her life and her pregnancy, but while she survived, but the baby she gave birth to died after a few days. She was charged with murder and attempted feticide while still hospitalized for an emotional breakdown and then spent 435 days in prison. She is now out on bail, but paying for a GPS-enabled ankle bracelet that will cost her $2500 until her trial.

What is wrong with this picture?

Well, what part of what Bei Bei Shuai did was criminal? Suicide is not a crime in Indiana and the law used to charge Ms. Shuai with feticide was targeted at third party attacks on pregnant women, not abortion. This particular interpretation of the law is the result of a swelling segment of anti-choice advocates who want to give fetuses separate legal personhood. This in turn criminalizes the behavior of pregnant women and subjects them to investigation for miscarriages or poor birth outcomes. Pregnant women would become a separate class with fewer rights.
Second, criminal penalties hardly seem like an effective deterrent to actions made under extreme emotional disturbance. That just isn’t how mental health works! Instead there needs to be careful screening and medical treatment for the 13-20% of women who experience depression while pregnant, and the 30% of depressed pregnant women have suicidal ideation.
Finally, let’s go back to the familiar story of Ms. Shuai’s immigrant experience. Many media outlets have portrayed Ms. Shuai sympathetically, but this sympathy can misguidedly stem from referencing the model minority myth rather what is owed to all women. The one interview with Bei Bei Shuai currently online shows her answering the questions about her family, her hopes upon arriving in America, and how she spent her time in prison. She answers that she came to the US wanting independence and an MBA, has been taking classes in prison, and is still strongly determined to live in America.

Together, Ms. Shuai’s optimistic answers and lack of hard feeling toward the American justice system form a perfect narrative of the grateful, educated, and ambitious immigrant. It seems to announce to white viewers, “Hey! She might be a foreigner and a woman of color, but she’s middle class, loves this country, and believes in its bootstrapping principles! We can sympathize with her and thus she deserves better!” But the insidious implication in the media constructing this type of narrative is that only people who have lived “perfect” lives up until that point — those who can answer those questions as Ms. Shuai or my mother would — are entitled to bodily autonomy and freedom from state intrusion into their private grief. And even if Bei Bei Shuai’s Chinese upbringing might look like a non-threatening analogue of the stereotypical American family, 34% of American children actually do not live in a home with two married parents. Many women from these families are especially vulnerable in terms of the ability to access health services and will see their rights stripped away by fetal personhood statutes. Bei Bei Shuai is admirably resilient and positive and her story demonstrates how even women who have conformed to the mainstream can become victimized. But women who do not fit that profile, who might be undocumented immigrants, on public assistance, raised in nontraditional families, angry about the way American society has written them off, all deserve justice and dignity just as much. It’s a basic human right.

Just Because the Internet Says Something Doesn’t Make it True

Elisabeth Smith, LSRJ Summer Legal Intern

This is the third week of my summer internship at LSRJ and I love everyone and almost everything.

All the interns are busy updating LSRJ factsheets so that law students around the country have accurate information on a wide range of reproductive justice topics.  While updating my factsheets, I have come across the worst of the internet.  When researching CEDAW (the United Nations Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women), I found a webpage that warned people to call their representatives and demand that CEDAW never be ratified and the Violence Against Women Act be repealed because both are bad for families.

Confused? I was.  The website explained that actually women are just as likely to be abusers, lie about domestic violence, and many innocent men are behind bars. Okay, then.

Next I researched the Convention for the Rights of the Child and encountered a site that proclaimed “No CRC in the USA!” Why? According to this group, if the US ratified the CRC then children would have the right to reproductive health information and services (among other things). Heavens.

Finally, I researched China’s population policy and found a site suggesting that “ObamaCare” (for the record, the Affordable Care Act) includes provisions that would forbid Americans from having more than one child.

Okay, people, seriously. Let’s debate, let’s discuss policy differences, differing world views, different potential solutions, and let’s do so respectfully. But when the premise of your argument depends solely on misinformation and outright lies, I don’t want to give you a seat at the table.

I haven’t cited the blogs in question for one reason: I don’t want anyone else to visit them. In their honor, though, I would like to set the record straight.

1)       Women are more likely to be victims of both fatal and nonviolence at the hands of intimate partners.

2)     Children have a right to information about their bodies and reproductive health because abstinence-only education does not work: youth in the program group were no more likely than control group youth to have abstained from sex and, among those who reported having had sex, they had similar numbers of sexual partners and had initiated sex at the same mean age.

3)     The Affordable Care Act does not limit the number of child a person or family can have. It does mandate that insurance companies pay for well-baby and well-child visits, immunizations, and screening and counseling.

Reproductive justice imagines a world where people have the rights, the support, the information, and the resources to make decisions for themselves and their families, free from violence and oppression. I would like to surf the internet in that world.