02/13/18 – Reproductive Justice in the Era of Backlash

The second session of the Spring 2018 semester of the USC Law & Global Health Collaboration focused on reproductive health. Professor Michele Goodwin, who holds the Chancellor’s Professorship at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) with appointments at the School of Law, School of Public Health, and Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies, discussed the current era of backlash we are living in and the impacts of the Trump administration’s laws and policies on reproductive health.

Professor Goodwin is the founder and director of the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy and its Reproductive Justice Initiative at UCI.

Professor Gruskin, Director of the Program on Global Health & Human Rights, welcomed everyone to the 2017-2018 USC Law & Global Health Collaboration meeting on Tuesday, February 13th at the Gould School of Law at USC. The focus of this presentation and discussion was reproductive justice in an era of backlash to progress and support a research agenda at USC for students and faculty.

Professor Michele Goodwin, who holds the Chancellor’s Professorship at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) with appointments at the School of Law, School of Public Health, and Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies, began with a history of reproductive rights in the United States. She talked about how this year marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, and the fact that, perhaps to the surprise of many, he was awarded Planned Parenthood’s first Margaret Sanger Award in 1966. Professor Goodwin noted that during this time he and Corretta Scott King talked about the importance of women having control over their reproductive health care rights, and saw this as connected to, and not distinct from, the fight for racial equality. Over the course of her talk, Professor Goodwin connected movements for racial equality with women’s independence, autonomy, and equality in ways that truly inspired the audience.

Professor Goodwin’s talk focused on the range of barriers to reproductive rights that women are experiencing within the United States, noting that since 2010-we have seen a drastic increase in anti-contraception and anti-abortion laws at the state level. Globally, with Trump’s restrictions to funding known as the ‘global gag rule,’ health care access for poor girls and women in developing countries that continue to receive US aid is also very much in jeopardy.

Professor Goodwin connected reproductive rights to the issue of mass incarceration; she shed light on the fact that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rates in the world, including the highest rates of incarcerated women. In this vein, the U.S. incarcerates more women than Russia, Thailand and Mexico combined. She also noted an increase in women being sent to jail for ‘hurting’ their fetuses, and that overwhelmingly these are Black and Latino women. She continued to say: Why aren’t we talking about this enough?

After Professor Goodwin’s presentation, she answered a range of questions from the audience. In the context of questions, she stated the need for women to run for office, and for everyone to vote and to vote smartly with attention to the range of issues she had presented.

The Law and Global Collaboration Fund would like to thank Dr. Goodwin for her time and engagement in this timely and important work.

To gain more information on the Global Gag Rule click the following link: GLP-GGR-FS-0118-Web