In response to overturning Roe v. Wade, we need reproductive justice now

A group of people at a rally on a cloudy day. They are holding signs, one reads hands off our uteruses and another reads reproductive justice now.

Brenna Bernardino gave the following speech at the “Roe v Wade OVERTURNED: Protest to defend US Abortion Rights” rally on Saturday, 2 July 2022 in Melbourne, Australia.

The situation in the US is scary.

As a dual US-Australian citizen, it makes me sick to my stomach.

I live in Texas, the first one to jump on the abortion bans. They inspired other states to do the same.

I came to Australia to visit family. My friends here are saying “don’t leave” and they’re genuinely scared of how much worse it’s going to get.

Abortion is a human right but rights aren’t everything.

Someone might have X, Y, Z rights, but it doesn’t mean they are afforded those rights.

Rights end up being about who matters more, who’s valued more, or what certain people care about. Reproductive rights end up being about individuals.

This is not about individuals — it’s about communities and how we’re all impacted. And those impacts are felt more by some communities than others.

We need to bring in social justice.

We need reproductive justice.

Reproductive justice is:

  • the right not to have a child, things like abortion and contraception
  • the right to have a child, things like birthing on country
  • the right to parent children without fear of violence from individuals or the state.

Reproductive injustice is not new — colonisation, eugenics and genocide has happened in Australia since invasion.

Reproductive justice puts abortion and all other aspects of our health in the bigger picture of our community.

We all need to talk about reproductive justice, what it means to us, and let that definition spread by word of mouth.

Reproductive justice is not a hashtag.

It’s not an empty corporate slogan.

It’s not an NGO catch cry.

No one owns it — we live it.

We must demand reproductive justice. We must demonstrate solidarity by sharing power and sometimes, it’s about giving power up. How many of you will be at NAIDOC rallies next week?

Dr Lilla Watson, a Gangulu woman once said, “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

Brenna Bernardino is the Health Communications Officer at Marie Stopes Australia. Her cultural background is Timorese, Portuguese, and Torres Strait Islander. She has worked in research across Indigenous health, health promotion, and education in Australia and the United States. Brenna is passionate about reproductive justice. You can follow Brenna on Twitter.

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