Everyone knows that access to abortion is a critical human rights issue. The potential overturning of Roe v. Wade is more than unconstitutional, it’s inhumane. An unjust human rights violation. But the worst part? As many activists have said, it’s the floor, not the ceiling, of reproductive justice. That’s where Loretta J. Ross and Rickie Solinger’s Reproductive Justice: An Introduction becomes crucial to understanding what that ceiling might look like.
Reproductive Justice and Killing the Black Body
When I was reading Reproductive Justice, I could not help comparing it with Dorothy Roberts’ Killing The Black Body that I read not too long ago. The books overlapped in several ways, but they were very different. I enjoyed Reproductive Justice more than Roberts’ book.
In my review of Killing the Black Body, you could tell that I had found it to have an exhausting amount of detail. It had seven chapters, averaging 42 pages each, with every one dedicated to one topic from the history of Black women’s reproductive oppression in the United States. Roberts provides a critical history that third-wave white feminists desperately need to familiarize ourselves with.
However, Killing the Black Body was originally published in 1997. By default, Reproductive Justice has a leg up in that it first came out in 2017. Roberts’ book serves a crucial purpose, but if I am gauging which book serves as a better, more urgent primer and call to action in our current situation, I have to recommend Ross and Solinger’s book.
The contents of Reproductive Justice
Reproductive Justice: An Introduction begins with a history of reproductive justice—or rather, our country’s lack of it. So most of the contents of Killing the Black Body were contained within this first section. The sacrifice of depth was worth the breadth, in my opinion.
For those unfamiliar, reproductive justice is the idea that any woman or fertile person has the human right not to bear children, to bear children, and to raise one’s children in a healthy and safe environment. That’s what the whole book—and movement—boils down to. It’s simple and should be obvious, but it is an enormous undertaking that requires an overhaul of our way of thinking about and supporting parenthood and fertility.
Thus, the book’s remaining sections are on reproductive justice in the twenty-first century (a history of the movement and introduction to key concepts), managing fertility (a large focus on abortion rights and the Hyde Amendment), and the right to parent, which really expands the focus to the safety of entire communities of color.
Reproductive Justice, the book and the movement itself, accords extra love to Black, Native, Latina, incarcerated, poor, immigrant, and transgender women and gender-expansive people. It is a beautiful basis for a beautiful movement.
Go read this book!
As you can see, with my last book review being only two weeks ago, this book did not take me long to read (by my standards). A Goodreads reviewer said that the book was very dense, and that did frighten me before I started it. Not to keep going back to Killing the Black Body—the book was very good and very important—but this was less dense, more digestible, and honestly more enjoyable than that was. Perhaps that’s because Killing the Black Body had such a focus on Black pain, whereas Reproductive Justice left me feeling inspired and empowered.
I’m keeping this post short. You don’t need to waste your time listening to me rave about how important reproductive justice is for the second week in a row. If you want to do something with your energy about the Supreme Court draft about Roe v. Wade, one thing you can do is read this book. And then share it with your friends. Talk about it in book club! This would make an excellent topic for a discussion group.
As always, I recommend that you buy it from an indie bookstore if you can. My copy from a local shop was almost $30, but trust me, it was worth it. And don’t forget to donate to your local abortion clinic while you have your wallet out.