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Reproductive rights for all

Greensboro socialist Anyanwu L. explains why the abortion rights and reproductive justice movement must include the voices of and attend to the needs of poor, trans, and queer people. This article was originally published in the local newsletter published by GRS, copies of which can be requested by writing

“The conversation about reproductive justice should include trans people because we are a part of this movement. Trans people build families and have abortions, too. We have our own stories and the more our voices get heard, the more we can help others going through the same things.”
Cazembe Murphy

“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle, because we do not live single issue lives.”
Audre Lorde

When discussing reproductive health concerns, it’s important that socialists carefully consider the social and economic impacts of race, class, gender, and sexuality as they relate to the lived experiences of those who continually are marginalized and left out of conversations. As folks raise funds and gather in places like Washington, D.C. for reproductive rights demonstrations, we should consider who is not present at these particular rallies and raise the question of how we can make our movements more expansive to include those trans, queer, and poor working-class people who do not have the means to travel. We should think about how most people have been miseducated about bodily autonomy and care. Many have to make the difficult decision to either show up to an organizing meeting/demonstration or feed their families. The socioeconomic barriers are but one struggle that we must contend with on the Left. We must acknowledge all the ways that international efforts to dehumanize and intentionally create campaigns that target individual groups have been a strategy of the right. As we organize for reproductive rights, it’s important that we consider all the ways that trans, queer, and working-class folks are desperately needed at the table.

Those of us on the Left have to be intentional about giving space to those trans, queer, poor and working-class folks, whose procreative and reproductive freedoms have been attacked on various fronts by liberal and conservative constituents alike. Those of us who believe in a socialist politics from below need to identify and continue to stand in solidarity with the most vulnerable folks. Folks usually identify abortion access as a singular organizing tool when conversations of reproductive rights arise. What needs to be included in that conversation is how the reversal of Roe v. Wade will inevitably affect all struggles for self-determination and bodily autonomy, including but not limited to gender affirming access to healthcare, same sex marriage, increasing the carceral state apparatus, and housing issues.

Reproductive rights struggles have to transcend the stereotypical idea that the struggles center and only affect persons with uteruses who identify as women. A reproductive rights struggle from below requires organizing strategies that show the connective tissue to other issues. Reproductive healthcare should include gender affirming care that doesn’t de-sex trans and queer folks and that addresses body dysphoria as a residual effect of a cis-heterosexual, white, patriarchal, capitalist system that upholds and legitimizes only the things that support systematic assimilation.

Advocating for the Supreme Court to uphold the 1973 decision is not enough. There has to be consistent conversation that addresses all the cleverly deceitful ways that politicians and right-wing advocates have actively been working to eliminate access to reproductive healthcare for poor working-class people, queer and trans folks. The Hyde Amendment of 1976 is one example of how attacks on reproductive healthcare have been occurring after social victories have been won. This particular amendment took away poor working-class women’s access to abortion by eliminating the option for Medicaid to pay for the procedure. The Hyde Amendment had devastating consequences on poor working-class families, as it forced unwanted pregnancies and compromised the sexual wellness of vulnerable communities. We have to advocate and push movements and discussions to consider the importance of offering free abortions on demand and advocate for a reproductive healthcare system that includes the struggles of all humans, regardless of one’s socioeconomic status or identity. Fighting for access for abortion rights as a singular issue, without acknowledging the other related reproductive struggles, leaves the organizing efforts vulnerable and open to manipulative attacks from the right. As we learn lessons from the past, we must be clear that including queer and trans folks having access to safe and free  reproductive healthcare, without being interrogated or left out of the conversation, is crucial to building our movements.

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Anyanwu L View All

Anyanwu L. is a member of the Tempest Collective and a Black, queer socialist.