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Exploring Reproductive Rights on the Border: Insights from a Presentation at SDSU IV Campus


In an event that took place at San Diego State University Imperial Valley Campus on March 14, a presentation on the status of reproductive rights on the border after the elimination of Roe v. Wade shed light on the challenges faced by women, particularly women of color, in accessing reproductive healthcare.

Led by Patricia Zavella, a professor with a personal commitment to reproductive justice, the presentation delved into the intersectional issues surrounding reproductive rights and the impact of recent legal decisions on marginalized communities. Zavella shared her own experiences of facing judgment and discrimination as a working mother of color in academia, highlighting the need for a more inclusive and supportive reproductive justice movement.

Drawing on five years of ethnographic research, Zavella emphasized the importance of collaboration among women of color engaged in reproductive justice activism. She pointed out the existence of racially specific organizations, such as the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum and Black Women for Wellness, that have formed coalitions to support each other in their campaigns and struggles.

In the face of increasing legal challenges to reproductive rights and the disproportionate impact on women of color, Zavella argued for a grassroots approach to activism that focuses on those most affected, emphasizes long-term preparation, and combines culture shift work with policy advocacy. She highlighted the need to disrupt stereotypes that women of color do not support abortion and called for national leadership in transnational organizing to advance the movement for reproductive justice.

The presentation also touched on the concept of reproductive governance, which refers to the various ways in which actors use legislative controls, economic inducements, moral injunctions, direct coercion, and ethical incitements to regulate reproductive behaviors. Zavella pointed out the phenomenon of legal violence, where immigration and criminal laws are used in conjunction with xenophobic discourse to create vulnerability for immigrants, further complicating access to reproductive healthcare.

As the fight for reproductive rights continues in the wake of the Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade, Zavella’s presentation served as a call to action for advocates to come together, support each other, and work towards a more just and equitable future for all women. The Movement for Reproductive Justice offers a roadmap for building a stronger and more resilient movement that can withstand the challenges ahead.

The challenges of reproductive justice along the U.S.-Mexico border are multifaceted and deeply rooted in systemic inequalities. Women of color in this region face barriers to accessing reproductive healthcare, including limited resources, language barriers, and immigration status concerns. 

Additionally, right-wing governments in power have implemented policies that restrict women’s reproductive freedoms, such as defunding Planned Parenthood and enacting restrictive abortion laws. Despite these challenges, women of color in the border region are organizing themselves to fight for their rights and empower other women. 

Through grassroots movements, advocacy organizations, and community outreach efforts, they are working to ensure that all women have access to safe and affordable reproductive healthcare services. By amplifying the voices of marginalized communities and advocating for policies that prioritize reproductive justice, these women are creating a more equitable and inclusive society for all.

The evening ended with an Imperial Valley’s Health panel, including Gina Vargas, Executive Director of WomanHaven, Michelle Luneau, Advanced Practice Clinician Specialist at Planned Parenthood, and Melissa Martinez, Specialty Service Center Manager at Planned Parenthood. 

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