Posted by Eve Ross '15
A cultural climate exists in which American politicians, the general public, and even women themselves question the extent to which women have the right to govern their own reproductive decisions because sexism pervades daily life. Because of the longstanding hegemonic ideologies about women’s social position and the sole role of women’s bodies as child-bearers, progressive reproductive rights legislation is not being passed or not being passed fast enough, which continues to foster social inequalities among men and women. Through my ethnographic account of one women’s rights organization, I contend that groups like Family Planning Advocates must continue to challenge the existing, misguided language surrounding reproductive rights in order enact desired social change.
If women cannot access reproductive healthcare, services, and education (also known as family planning services), they will forever be in a disadvantaged state compared to men. These family planning services include: client counseling and education; contraceptive drugs and devices; diagnostic tests for pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, and cervical cancer; breast and pelvic exams; treatments for some diagnoses, like urinary track infections and STIs; and in some cases, sterilization and abortion procedures. As this lengthy list indicates, family planning services provide crucial support for both women and men in terms of sexual and reproductive health—a necessary component of overall wellbeing, for which FPA is really advocating when they champion reproductive rights.