F-Word: People Who Stand for Justice, Not the Just-Us

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Reproductive justice in action? It looks like bravery. 

The bravery required to stand up for everyone, not just a few; for the whole, not the fraction or the piece. People who stand for justice, not the just-us approach to something like Reproductive Rights, often meet resistance: We need to move incrementally, say the incrementalists, let’s get the easy wins first, then the rest. So history advances, we’re often told, piece by piece….

Except usually what happens is we get piecemeal progress. Not quite enough to get us what we wanted,  but just enough to serve a portion of us, for a bit. Attacks usually come, and those who’ve won piecemeal progress find out their movement’s in pieces. Surprise surprise, they’re not on great terms with the ones they left behind. And those they left at the back of the priority line aren’t so excited about being at their back. Which is why it’s important to notice when progressives pull together to go further. In Oregon, they did just that earlier this year, with the passage of the Reproductive Equity Act HB 3391 - passed by a 17-13 vote. 

The law would close a lot of the loopholes left in the Affordable Care Act and ensure that all Oregonians receive the full range of preventative reproductive health care including abortion, vasectomy and postpartum care at zero out of pocket costs. It’d extend that care to undocumented people, and prohibit discrimination against people like Kaden Merrill, a 20 something trans-man who’s been denied treatment for the pre-cancerous cells his doctor found after a Pap smear.  We don’t have a category for you,” one of his insurers told me. “Why would a male have a uterus?” Said another. Lack of curiosity and ignorance among health insurers and providers is a threat to everyone’s health.

The Reproductive Equity Act was long in coming. Its drafters couldn’t have predicted a federal Trump/Pence administration that right now would be gunning for the ACA itself. Now that’s what they’re facing. And the movement of health care activists lining up is big and broad, not piecemeal. One of the coalitions involved calls itself, We are Brave, and they are. They’re also smart. The health care that’s won for the most marginalized will cover the others. Call it trickle up. Call it reproductive justice. To find out more, go to the website of the Western States Center. Now if only we’d started with a push for single payer. No piecemeal movement, no movements in pieces. I’m sure by now you get my point.

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