In healthcare, reproductive rights are rarely mentioned. This, of course, comes from my personal experience of healthcare spaces. Still, it seems that the training of medical professionals rarely centers a conversation about bodily autonomy, which is what leads us to the medicalization of human life and experience.
The human experience is one that is rarely explored. In the beginning of life, we focus on planning and execution of things through detailed planning to minimize the risks to our fragile human state. In the end of life, we drag bodies through endless treatments to advance our collective species, while stripping humans of their ability to make their own decisions and decide what is best for them. Now, what does this process of medicalization have to do with reproductive justice, you ask?
As abortion activists, we fight to destigmatize the medical process of terminating a pregnancy as deemed by the human carrying the fetus. The process of medicalization creates an environment of paternalism. Practices of paternalism may as well be the title of a book on white dynamics. The reproductive justice movement struggles no less with this than any other movement involving white people. Paternalism is based in the belief that a person in authority knows better than those “below” them (purely through a subjective hierarchical system created by the same authority figures). This sounds a lot like healthcare providers making decisions that they believe to be the “right” decision at the end of someone’s life. Like reproductive healthcare, end of life care is not centered on the people it should be centered on, but rather on societal pressures that dictate what the “right” choice is.
The obsession with right vs wrong is characteristic of the obstacles to preventive care. In end of life care, public health needs to do a better job at being transparent when offering treatment options throughout the life as opposed to only when patients reach the point of no return, without having ever given their desires for their end of life a second thought. The same applies to reproductive healthcare and abortion. The stigma around abortion creates a huge obstacle to understanding all our options as humans with the capability to reproduce.
If, as mortal beings, we never think about our end-of-life, how can we influence our experience of life itself? If, as beings who can reproduce, we are unable to even consider the possibility that we may need an abortion one day, how can we expect to understand abortion as a procedure which we have a right to decide on, rather than a stigmatized decision?