Reproductive Freedom Expands Beyond Abortion

June 12, 2023Lillie Heyman and Talia Shapiro Blank

In April 2023, the WRJ North American Board gathered at OSRUI Camp for our annual board meeting. In the middle of the meeting, breaking news hit: Supreme Court protects access to abortion pill, allowing mifepristone to remain available and approved as the appeals process on the ruling in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine et al. v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration et al. continues. I (Talia) will never forget WRJ VP of Social Justice, Shoshana Dweck, coming up to me, showing me the article, and asking if her eyes were deceiving her. They were not. We sat together, hugged, and cried tears of joy. When she announced it to everyone, the room erupted in cheers. It was such a powerful moment. While we knew this ruling may only be temporary as the case makes its way through the court, in that moment, we breathed a sigh of relief and reveled in this small victory together—a bright spot in the shadows of the ongoing threats to our fundamental rights. 

On June 7th, we marked the 58th anniversary of the Griswold v. Connecticut Supreme Court decision that first recognized the constitutional right to contraception and to privacy for married couples. This decision laid the foundation for other landmark decisions that are now are under legal threat following the decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which reaches its first anniversary on June 24th.  

Justice Thomas jeopardized this critical constitutional right to privacy in his concurring opinion in Dobbs, where he specifically called out Griswold v. Connecticut, Lawrence v. Texas (which invalidated sodomy law), and Obergefell v. Hodges (which affirmed the right to ‘same-sex’ marriage) as “erroneous” cases that should be overruled. Thankfully, Congress passed the Respect for Marriage Act last November, which protects marriage equality for same-sex and interracial couples—but that is not enough. 

June is also Pride Month, a month dedicated to celebration and commemoration of LGBTQ+ pride, honoring the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots. This year, Pride Month comes at a time when local, state, and federal governments have passed a record number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills, many of which directly attack transgender, non-binary, intersex, and gender-expansive people (especially youth), and their bodily autonomy. 

Since its beginning, WRJ has been at the forefront of social action efforts, tirelessly committed to creating positive change. WRJ has stood in solidarity with a person’s right to have autonomy over their own body and pushes forward in the pursuit of abortion rights. WRJ also proudly recognizes that the fight for reproductive rights is not just limited to abortion rights. 

Rather, as Pride Month and the anniversaries of Griswold and Dobbs remind us, the fight includes the many components of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), such as: 

  • Safe abortion services 

  • Maternal health; prenatal, childbirth, and postnatal care; obstetric care 

  • Access to comprehensive counseling and services for family planning and contraception 

  • Sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention and management 

  • Gender-based violence 

  • Infertility management 

  • Access to menstrual care and products 

  • Comprehensive sexual education 

  • Sexual health and well-being  

  • Self-determination of gender identity, access to gender-affirming care, and bodily autonomy of trans youth 

  • LGBTQ+ rights 

  • And racial justice, which is central to each of the above components. 

Each of these pieces are vital to the preservation and improvement of privacy and dignity, personal bodily autonomy, and the health and well-being of all people. It is imperative that we keep up the fight for the full range of sexual and reproductive health and rights, as the components are all intersectional.  

Stay tuned as WRJ continues to explore these various topics. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to take action: 

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