Afternoon Roundup: Reproductive Justice and the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

I thought the commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was a perfect vehicle for a round-up highlighting why reproductive justice and access to health care is core to social justice overall.

  • Planned Parenthood Federation of America released a statement today in which they remind us of Dr. King’s message of equity as it relates specifically to health care access:

Dr. King also spoke passionately about the need for equity in health care, and said in 1966, ‘Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.’…

“Planned Parenthood is opposed to racism and prejudice of any kind and is fully committed to ending racial disparities in health care, including reproductive health care that disproportionately affect African Americans, Latinos and others.  More than 90 percent of the health services provided at Planned Parenthood health centers is preventive in nature, including lifesaving breast exams, Pap tests, contraception, and physical exams at an affordable cost.

“In 1966, Planned Parenthood presented Dr. King with the PPFA Margaret Sanger Award, the organization’s highest honor, in recognition of his excellence and leadership in furthering reproductive health and rights.

“Martin Luther King Jr. Day serves as a reminder of how much we have accomplished and how much we have yet to achieve.  Making affordable health care available to all Americans will ensure that Dr. King’s dream of health care justice is fulfilled.”

Dr. King was much more than a civil rights champion — he was a man who lived his entire life in service to others, speaking out against poverty, economic injustice, and violence. Wherever he saw suffering, he did what he could to help, no matter who it was that needed him or why they were in pain. Through his leadership, he showed us what we can accomplish when we stand together.

  • The news media doesn’t bring, into reasoned debates on civil rights, voices who believe Black people should not have the right to vote or those who stand in opposition to interracial marriage, so why do they continue to bring on vocal anti-gay voices? It’s an appropriate and relevant question to ask on a day when we honor Dr. King and his civil rights legacy, notes Eric Deggans, media critic writing on The Huffington Post today
  • On today, Brie Cadman calls health disparities, based on race and ethnicity the greatest injustice in our health care system. “African-American babies are up to three times more likely to die in infancy than those born to members of other racial groups. Blacks have also been hit hardest by the HIV epidemic, with a prevalance that is over nine times as high as it is among whites. And racial/ethnic minorities, who are more likely to live in polluted urban counties, experience greater health effects from fine particulates and ozone, ” Cadman writes. Health care reform aims to remedy so many of these disparities – it’s why Cadman is asking folks to sign onto a petition to Congress to ensure health reform remains in place. 
  • Environmental justice, anyone? While this study doesn’t appear to address the disparities according to socio-economic status or race, it did find some startling evidence of potentially harmful chemicals in 100% of pregnant women in the U.S. The study was conducted by the UCSF Programs on Reproductive Health and the Environment and revealed levels of chemicals including: BPA (found in plastic containers and in baby bottles, the use of which is banned in some states now), PCBs and PBDEs (a chemical compound used in flame retardants banned in many states).

“Several of these chemicals in pregnant women were at the same concentrations that have been associated with negative effects in children from other studies…”, said Tracy Woodruff, lead author of the study.

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  • crowepps

    It is just absolutely incredible to me that it is possible for European countries and all of Canada to muddle through without contaminating their pregnant women/babies with BPA and yet in America, where the ProLife forces are SUPPOSED to be strongest, the chemical industry can pressure those exact same Republican lawmakers to allow them to continue poisoning children.

    Where the heck were all the ProLife activitists and pressure groups  who get hysterical about ‘innocent life’ when this happened?

  • cc

    I posted this on another thread but it needs to get out there:


    As this is the birthday, of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Stanek has the obligatory Planned Parenthood is genociding black babies, yadda, yadda, yadda. I posted a section of King’s acceptance speech for an award given to him by Planned Parenthood. Stanek’s folks claim that King was anti-Planned Parenthood and that’s why his wife delivered the speech. They base this revisionist history on comments made by the rabidly anti-choice niece of King, Alveda King. One of the gang, Dr. Gerard Nadal (total condescending misogynist) claimed that Alveda King told him – are ya ready for it – that Planned Parenthood actually wrote the speech. So MLK, Jr. would allow a deceit to be perpetrated by a speech that he allowed somebody else to write.

    This is an incredible insult to the memory of Dr. King. Have these people no shame?!

    Addendum: Another poster asked me if I had any proof that King wrote the speech. To point out the absurdity of her comment, I asked her if she had any proof that King wrote the “I have a dream” speech and the letter from the Birmingham Jail.

    I guess if you don’t like history, you just make it up.

  • crowepps

    Has anybody brought up the availability of MLK’s ‘original birth certificate’ yet?

  • beenthere72

    LOL!  I’ve made the mistake of adding to the commentary over there now too.  :-(

  • princess-rot

    Well, they mustn’t let their oft-trumpeted pro-life morality get in the way of making money when it’s not also serving both of its purposes of oppressing someone and pouring money into pro-life coffers…

  • rebellious-grrl

    CC – I read this on the other thread but thanks for reposting here. Stanek’s same old song and dance doesn’t surprise me. Same old, same old. Her rabid anti-choice followers are as misguided and delusional as she is (if not more so.) And that guy, Dr. Gerard Nadal, misogynist, pompous windbag, and damn annoying.