Dear Monica Simpson and colleagues, I want to be as clear as possible: Planned Parenthood values your work deeply. We honor your past and present efforts to broaden our collective efforts to address the multiple injustices that women face. We appreciate that you push us to do this more, and to do it better. And we hear you when you say that we are not doing enough.
The recent exclusion of the long-term work of scores of reproductive justice organizations, activists, and researchers that have challenged the “pro-choice” label for 20 years, seen recently in New York Times and Huffington Post articles, is not only disheartening but, intentionally or not, continues the co-optation and erasure of the tremendously hard work done by Indigenous women and women of color for decades.
The persistent focus on the links between “choice” and abortion—the origins of this relationship and some of its impacts—in no way fully expresses or honors the vision or the agenda of reproductive justice advocates.
What does it mean to be pro-choice? For an increasing number of activists, advocates, and advocacy organizations, it includes wanting to be identified with an agenda more comprehensive than supporting a woman’s right to choose abortion—as in, dropping the “choice” label entirely.
Choice does not necessarily have to be in a name. But it needs to be at the core of our values, because respect for women’s capacity to decide really does matter.
The president of Physicians for Reproductive Health responds to Ann Furedi’s spiked essay questioning the organization’s decision to drop “choice” from its name.
“Inclusivity” and “intersectionality” are not just words. They describe the theory and practice of the reproductive justice movement with the potential to revitalize all of our advocacy and enable us to create the large and motivated base of support required to secure reproductive rights, health, and justice for all.
Both choice and reproductive justice have a place in our battle for women’s autonomy. But one cannot take the place of the other.