(Ben Green) #1

62 Time December 2–9, 2019

leaders, wrote an open letter to Planned Parent-
hood. “This is not only disheartening but, inten-
tionally or not, continues the co-optation and
erasure of the tremendously hard work done by
Indigenous women and women of color (WOC)
for decades,” Simpson wrote. This forced the two
movements to sit down and discuss how they
could better work together.
SisterSong now provides training on the history
and ideology of reproductive justice to local
Planned Parenthood affiliates, and Planned Parent-
hood clinics provide medical care and services that
SisterSong does not. There’s a need for both, Simp-
son says. “Organizations don’t have to be every-
thing to everybody,” she adds.
Nia Martin-Robinson, director of black leader-
ship and engagement at Planned Parenthood, says
the 2014 letter was a learning opportunity. The
organization has since deepened its commitment
to “making sure that we’re giving credit, space,
visibility and power to the folks who have been
leading this work around the reproductive- justice
movement,” she says. Planned Parenthood was a
top sponsor at SisterSong’s conference this year.
But the relationship could always be stronger.
“We’re still on that journey,” Simpson says.

The sisTersong conference offered a range
of workshops on a variety of hot-button progres-
sive topics, including environmental justice, im-
migration and Palestinian solidarity, as well as
training for medical providers, nonprofit leaders, lawyers and research-
ers, and how-to sessions on everything from campus organizing to
the entrepreneurship of stripping. At one session, attendees discussed
strategies for incorporating disability advocacy into their work.
Another workshop concluded with participants chanting, “I am
worthy of pleasure!”
On the second night, attendees let loose at a dance party that lasted
well past its scheduled three hours. “There’s not a lot of places that the
organizers in our community can show up to just be recharged,” says
Danielle Rodriguez, SisterSong’s national conference coordinator. This
feeling of solidarity was crucial for attendees like Bridgette Agbozo, a
22-year-old from North Carolina whose family came to the U.S. from
Ghana. “As a young person who grew up in the U.S. South and coming
from an immigrant background, these are not conversations I grew up
having,” she says after leaving a workshop where she sought advice on
how to square her love for activism with thoughts of going to law school.
“It’s really re affirming to be around people who get it.”
The increased influence of the movement was apparent at the con-
ference. After the 2016 race, in which 94% of black women voted for
Hillary Clinton, many nonprofits realized that they needed to speak
more directly to women of color, who are instrumental to efforts to ex-
pand the base. SIECUS, formerly known as the Sexuality Information
and Education Council of the U.S., has historically not been part of the
reproductive- justice movement, but it recently rebranded with a new
mission of using sex education to push social change. “When you center
these voices of those who are most at risk,” executive director Christine
Soyong Harley says, “you actually come up with the best solutions for

our society.” URGE went from hosting chapters
solely on college campuses to also building “city
activist networks” in recognition of the fact that
not all young people who want to organize at-
tend college. National Latina Institute for Re-
productive Health has seen a swell in grassroots
involvement and other groups wanting to help
their cause. And National Asian Pacific American
Women’s Forum is investing in get-out-the-vote
efforts, after seeing people turned away when
trying to vote in Georgia in 2018, says executive
director Sung Yeon Choimorrow.
Reproductive-justice leaders are quick to note
that people of color have struggled to access care
for much longer than Trump has been in office.
But since the election, the flood of new policies af-
fecting immigrants, LGBTQ people, women and
those relying on programs such as Medicaid and
Title X funding has created a new pressure. This
year alone, states have passed 25 laws that would
ban some or most abortions, according to the Gutt-
macher Institute, a research group that supports
reproductive rights, and the uninsured rate in-
creased for the first time in nearly a decade.
When SisterSong sued Georgia over its ban
on abortions as early as six weeks—before many
women know they are pregnant—it was a big
moment for the group and the movement.
“A lot of abortion lawsuits erase women
of color,” says Sean J. Young, legal director of
ACLU of Georgia, which is serving as counsel
on the case, along with the Center for Reproduc-
tive Rights and Planned Parenthood. (Feminist


Simpson speaks
about the lawsuit
Georgia’s abortion
law, on June 28






Free download pdf