Friday, October 23, 2015

City Health Department Embraces Reproductive Justice Perspective

PoliticoNY (Sept. 30, 2015): City health department takes on reproductive justice framework, by Dan Goldberg:

Recognizing that it matters how we frame our discussions of reproductive health, the City of New York's Department of Health has decided to broaden its reproductive health strategy by embracing a "reproductive justice" perspective. 

Reproductive justice, a term that grew out of the mid-1990s women's rights agenda, is a philosophy that says a woman's right and ability to control her body is impacted by social inequities, including racism.

It argues that government has a responsibility not only to ensure that women can decide what to do with their bodies, but also that the conditions are suitable for implementing those decisions. 

The move reflects the DiBlasio administration's perspective on health disparities as an issue of both racial and economic inequality.  The new lens will influence what the department talks about and whom it engages  in conversation about reproductive health.  For example, to assist women in maintaining healthy pregnancies and raising healthy infants, 

the health department plans to broaden the definition of reproductive health so it takes into account whether women have the social support — health care, housing, financial stability.  The conversation can then further expand to violence prevention, maternity care, early childhood development and parental education. 

Commissioner Mary Bassett hopes the new framing will help the department reach women of color who distrust government because of its history of advancing racist reproductive health policies.

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