(Ben Green) #1


People outside the movement have quietly adopted some of the pri-
orities of the reproductive-justice community. In 2016, the Democratic
National Committee added language advocating the repeal of the Hyde
Amendment, which bans the use of federal funding for most abor-
tions, to its platform for the first time, something reproductive- justice
groups had pushed for years. Kamala Harris has been using the phrase
reproductive justice since at least 2017. Elizabeth Warren features a
reproductive- justice section on the women’s-health policy page of her
website. And Julián Castro has mentioned the term in multiple presi-
dential debates. His campaign manager, Maya Rupert, spent most of
her career as an activist and is familiar with this work, but says the ideas
come from the candidate, who listened to women of color and wanted
to incorporate reproductive- justice values into his policies. “It is a tes-
tament to the unbelievable organizing and activism work that black
women have been putting in for years and years and years,” Rupert says
of seeing more candidates talking about reproductive justice.

some philanThropic foundaTions have reallocated their budgets
to give more grants to reproductive-justice groups and help them build
organizing capacity. The Ford Foundation, for example, has doubled
some reproductive- justice groups’ funding to $1 million each year. And
Groundswell Fund, which supports more reproductive- justice groups
than any other foundation in the U.S., not only increased its own fund-
ing to such groups after the 2016 election, giving $2.9 million from its
core fund last year, but also ramped up its work with other founda-
tions to increase investments in reproductive justice. “Philanthropy
has a hard time funding women of color,” says its founder and execu-
tive director Vanessa Daniel. “Things are moving in a good direction
but at a glacial pace.”
For those gathered at the conference, there’s a tough fight ahead.
Movement advocates fear the Supreme Court’s conservative major-
ity could overturn Roe v. Wade or render another decision that would
make abortion inaccessible in states with Republican legislatures.
Choimorrow says she is glad to see the broader culture recognize
the importance of reproductive justice, but wants to push some na-
tional organizations to do more work before the 2020 election.
“I think the winning strategy is actually to expand your messaging,”
she says. Women of color are
already doing this, she adds.
“Maybe it’s time for you to re-
ally get out of the way so that
women of color can lead.”
Which is perhaps the
point. At one of the most
popular panels at the confer-
ence, four executive directors
of progressive organizations, all people of color, spoke about the chal-
lenges of championing the concerns of their communities in historically
white-led environments. The next day, attendees erupted in cheers when
Georgia state representative “Able” Mable Thomas, one of the “found-
ing mothers” of the reproductive- justice movement, announced she is
running for the U.S. Senate.
These are moments that make Simpson optimistic. “Folks are
ready to fight back, and they want to fight back with a movement
that understands them,” she says. “We are creating our own stages,
we’re creating our own tables, we are grabbing our own microphones
to talk about these issues, to move our work forward. Folks are going
to have to catch up.” □

Women’s Health Center, Planned Parenthood
and other Georgia medical providers and their
patients are also plaintiffs.)
Many abortion lawsuits focus on doctors and
patients. But in this case, the legal team is arguing
that the law will also hurt SisterSong and the ad-
vocacy organizations and pregnant people it rep-
resents. “When the government bans abortion, it
forces such organizations to divert their limited
resources to combat the ban,” Young says.
Shortly after Kenyetta Chinwe joined Sister-
Song in January to start its Amplify project,
which aims to build relationships
with faith leaders, Georgia’s
legislature took up its abor-
tion bill. So rather than fo-
cusing on outreach to re-
ligious communities, she
spent weeks at the state cap-
itol with the group’s state di-
rector lobbying against the bill.
The staff also travels to provide training to
other social- justice groups, to non profits and, in-
creasingly, to service providers and even medi-
cal schools on how to incorporate the values of
reproductive justice into their work. SisterSong
now has 65 organizational members and nearly
500 individual members in its coalition. But with
just seven full-time staffers and a budget that al-
lowed for spending $1.7 million in 2017 (com-
pared with, say, Planned Parenthood’s $318 mil-
lion for the fiscal year ending in June 2017), the
group is stretched thin.





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