The Fight for Abortion and Reproductive Justice after Roe


Spectre Journal (USA) recently hosted an event for donors about global lessons for the struggle for abortion rights and reproductive justice after the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. The panel included Camila Valle, Sherry Wolf, Emily Janakiram, and Holly Lewis. This is an edited transcript of their speeches and wrap ups after the discussion.

Camila Valle: I know people are probably thinking about what just happened to our right to abortion and reproductive healthcare in the US, which other speakers will go into tonight, but I wanted to start with a historic victory in a different part of the world: that of the Argentinian abortion movement, which won legalization at the end of 2020—and not just legalization, but free abortion as part of their socialized healthcare system.


USA – “In the end we will win”: The faces of the fight for abortion rights

The Supreme Court’s decision to end federal protections for abortion access didn’t just rewind the clock 50 years, it opened a Pandora’s box of confusing, potentially life-threatening legal complications. VF talks with five women on the front lines.

OCTOBER 12, 2022

Tattooed on Caitlin Bernard’s left foot is the image of a coat hanger and the words “Trust Women.” The 38-year-old Indiana-based ob-gyn got it years ago; it was intended as a reminder of life before Roe v. Wade. Bernard has long paired her medical career with advocacy. She was a plaintiff in an unsuccessful 2019 American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit to reverse Indiana’s near-total ban on second-trimester abortions. Post-Roe, Indiana became the first state to pass an abortion ban. Now, Bernard is girding for another legal fight—this time against Republican Indiana attorney general Todd Rokita, who she says maligned her practice as Bernard became a lightning rod in one of the most publicized cases after the Dobbs decision stripped federal abortion protections and turned the country into a patchwork of disparate laws.


Canada – The fight for reproductive justice is an abolitionist struggle

Review | October 3, 2022
by Maya Campo
Abortion to Abolition: Reproductive Health and Justice in Canada by Martha Paynter (Fernwood, 2022).

With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, reproductive rights are coming under increasing attack. However, the mainstream political discourse about reproductive rights and access to abortion too often narrows this discussion in a way that replicates systemic oppression and white supremacy.  

Martha Paynter’s new book, Abortion to Abolition, aims to recentre the discussion around a framework of reproductive justice, which Paynter highlights as being developed by women of colour. Paynter takes an intersectional approach to the abortion rights, presenting case studies that highlight systemic issues of colonialism, homophobia and transphobia, racism, and classism that infringe upon reproductive rights in Canada.


Dorothy Roberts on reproductive justice: ‘Abortion isn’t the only focus’

The scholar discusses why the movement needs to bring reproductive justice out of the margins and into the center

Marian Jones
Sun 28 Aug 2022

For many women of color, the right to control one’s reproductive destiny has always been about much more than the right to abortion.

With the recent loss of the constitutional right to abortion in the US, some reproductive rights advocates are calling for a renewed focus on reproductive justice, a concept developed in the early 1990s by women of color. Reproductive justice stresses not just the right to abortion, but also economic, racial and environmental justice, along with other facets of social equality, as critical to true reproductive freedom.


It’s a stressful time to be an abortion doula. But many say they aren’t quitting

By Harmeet Kaur, CNN
Fri July 15, 2022

(CNN)Saquaya Ruffin didn't know what an abortion doula was until the clinic staff asked if she wanted one.

Her mother came with her to the appointment at Planned Parenthood in New York, but she wasn't going to be allowed in the procedure room. Ruffin agreed to the doula, figuring it would help to have someone with her.

USA – I’m Black. I Thought White Feminism Would Keep Abortion Safe.

White women who once saw Roe as core to second-wave feminism seem not to be putting up much of a fight. Is it time for Black women to pick up the mantle?

Erin Aubry Kaplan

When I was in my 20s, I had an abortion. Actually, I had more than one. It’s taken me more than a month even to write those sentences — a single, simple truth I had to break into two parts to make palatable. The impending official demise of Roe v. Wade has forced me to look at the depth of my reticence about this. People have lauded me over the years for allegedly brave things I’ve said in columns, for putting myself “out there,” but I’d never shared this. I always told myself it was because abortion wasn’t relevant to racial justice, which is the bulk of what I write about. Yet I’ve written about plenty of personal matters that are ostensibly nonracial — depression, money, crises with my dogs, my unfolding struggle with alopecia. All these things at some point have racial implications, as most things in America do. Those things certainly include abortion rights. But I left it alone.


USA – It seems like a scary time for reproductive rights. Here are reasons to have more hope.

Power over bodies has a long history that is inclusive of racism, classism and ableism. We need to change the way we talk about abortion rights.

May 21, 2022
By Dr. Esther Choo, MSNBC Opinion Columnist

As someone born just four months before the Roe v. Wade decision, I’m sometimes tormented by the idea that we’ve made absolutely no progress in reproductive health over the course of my life. Just this week, Oklahoma passed a bill that will ban abortion from the moment of “fertilization.” Ahead of Georgia’s GOP Senate primary on Tuesday, front-runner Herschel Walker has made it clear there should be “no exception” to abortion bans in his state. News of criminalizing medically necessary abortions and even miscarriages of unknown cause makes this a bleak and frightening time.

To Be Pro-Choice, You Must Have the Privilege of Having Choices

April 11, 2022
By Monica Simpson, executive director of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective

As a queer woman who grew up in North Carolina, I learned at an early age that my Blackness could be a source of great joy — but it could also pose a threat to my safety and autonomy.

In middle school, white boys laid their hands on me without my consent when I sharpened my pencil. To travel through town, I had to pass a building dedicated to Senator Jesse Helms, a champion of modern-day anti-abortion laws. It was all a daily reminder of the tight grip that whiteness had on my full liberation. I did not consent to that either.


How Black Feminists Defined Abortion Rights

As liberation movements bloomed, they offered a vision of reproductive justice that was about equality, not just “choice.”

By Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
February 22, 2022

It will probably be months before the Supreme Court decides, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, whether to overturn Roe v. Wade. But, in this latest round of attacks on Roe, a novel line of argument has emerged: that forced pregnancy and parenthood no longer constitute a hardship for women. Lawyers representing Mississippi, the appellant in the lawsuit, describe a world that has fundamentally changed over the past fifty years, in which the burdens of parenting have been lifted and women have been empowered to have it all—to assume a career while still raising families. As for those women who would prefer not to parent, they now have the option to simply terminate their parental rights.


USA – A new Supreme Court justice’s dissent on abortion could be game-changing

By Rachel Rebouché and Linda C. McClain, opinion contributors, The Atlantic

With Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement recently announced, national attention has focused on who President Biden will nominate in keeping his promise to appoint the first Black woman to the Supreme Court.

Another aspect of Biden’s nomination has received far less attention: A new justice on a lopsidedly conservative court would likely join Justice Sonia Sotomayor in writing dissents speaking to the future. The vital role of dissenting opinions is evident this term, as the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade by early summer or to weaken it so thoroughly that Roe poses no meaningful barrier to states criminalizing abortion.