Why Reproductive Justice Needs a Space in the Environmental Discussion

One of the fundamental tenants of reproductive justice, as described by SisterSong, is to choose whether to have a child.

If a person chooses to have a child, that child is entitled to grow up in a safe and healthy environment. When we connect the dots between environmental and reproductive justice, we can easily see these two spheres of justice overlap in more than one dimension. 

As a reproductive justice and environmental advocate majoring in international studies, I’ve come across countless examples of the need for comprehensive reproductive care—not just for the benefit of humans, but for our ecosystems as well. For example, studies have shown that women leaders and state peace are correlated, meaning more women leaders often lead to less war and more stable states. War wreaks havoc on our planet, turning into both an anti-feminist and anti-environment act. On the other hand, stable states allow more public dollars to be spent in ways that benefit our communities and our environment. How can we encourage more women leaders? Family planning—access to reproductive health clinics and contraceptives—has shown to be an integral force which allows people to delay having children, leading to longer times in schools and higher educational achievement. 

Clearly, a person’s choice must be centered in these discussions, especially when the conversation can often veer toward extremist views of population control, which are often directed solely at developing nations. It’s clear that no person should ever be told they can’t have a child; that’s a fundamental breech of our human rights. We must keep pushing for a more intersectional approach between environmental and reproductive justice because when people have the resources to choose, plan, and raise their family in a healthy environment we all win.

-Sarah MacBride-Karver

You can hear more from Sarah on her YouTube channel which centers around the personally impactful activism we all can take for a more climate just world.