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Reproductive Justice

We believe Reproductive Justice, or RJ, exists when all individuals have the power, access and resources to make healthy decisions about their bodies, sexuality, relationships, and families for themselves and their community.

Our Madrinas

COLOR was founded in 1998 by seven Latinas who searched for solutions to overcome health disparities impacting the Latinx community and to fill a gap in the repro space that did not represent the Latina experience. We thank them for being pioneers in this movement toward revolutionary change.

In April 1998, our Madrinas, also known as Founding Mothers, with the help of a grant from the Latinas Unidas State Coalition Project of the National Latina Institute For Reproductive Health, started working to create a voice and presence in the area of reproductive health and freedom in Colorado and created Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR). In December 2000, COLOR became incorporated in the state of Colorado and received 501(C)(3) status. 

From left to right: Gloria Steinmen, Melanie Herrera Bortz, Marie Wilson, CEO of Ms. Foundation in 2003.

Loretta Ross

The term reproductive justice was coined by Loretta Ross, the founder of the organization SisterSong in Chicago in 1994. The reproductive justice movement came out of an acknowledgement that women of color are often hurt most by attacks on our rights and communities and that our voices and experiences have often been left out of mainstream reproductive rights initiatives.

COLORistxs Kassandra Rendon-Morales, Nina Zamarippa with Loretta Ross, 2017

Reproductive Justice is different from reproductive health, rights or choice. Here is a breakdown of the different terms and their meaning:

Reproductive Health (RH):

A continuum of physical, mental and social-emotional care pertaining to the reproductive system at all stages of life (e.g., information, screenings, treatment and care on STDs/STIs and HIV/AIDS, contraception, abortion). RH addresses a person’s ability to have a satisfying and safe sex life, the capability to reproduce, and the freedom to decide if, when, and how often to do so. It also focuses on the creation, monitoring and availability of different methods and services that someone might utilize to manage their health and fertility. RH groups are often involved in work around FDA approval and regulations, as well as traditional advocacy on abortion and contraception.

Reproductive Rights (RR):

Reproductive rights work is about the legal protections that exist and that we pursue through legislation and litigation in order to protect the right to access reproductive health care services. RR work has been largely focused on abortion and contraception. Reproductive rights is often narrowly focused on (1) approving a person’s ability to decide to terminate a pregnancy, and (2) ensuring they have the legal protections to act on that decision.


The term pro-choice has been used as a label for the work of reproductive rights organizations and the right to seek an abortion. It generally refers to political advocacy on behalf of access to abortion. It is often used as the opposite of “pro-life”. The media also utilizes “pro-abortion” and “anti-abortion” to label what is presented as two sides of an issue. In recent years, there has been a great deal of discussion about both the limits of using labels, as well as the fact that the label “pro-choice” does not fully reflect the mission and work of the reproductive justice movement which incorporates a more diverse range of issues, voices and viewpoints.

COLOR fights for reproductive health, rights and justice!

Reproductive Justice (RJ):

Reproductive justice is meant to be more than a label. It is a four-tenet framework that provides a different approach to doing the work. Reproductive justice affirms that person has the right and should have the human right:

(1)  to decide when and if they will have a child and the conditions under which they will define and expand their family,

(2) to decide if they will not have a child and their access to preventing or ending a pregnancy in a safe and dignified manner

(3) A person has the human right to care for the family they already have with the necessary social supports in safe environments and healthy and sustainable communities, and

(4) A person has the human right to express gender identity, expression, and sexual orientation and sexuality freely.

All without fear of violence, discrimination, separation, surveillance or retaliation from individuals or the government. From a messaging and organizing standpoint, reproductive justice incorporates a broad range of issues and is meant to emphasize the intersections between different movements and communities to cultivate greater understanding and create a stronger movement. When the term “reproductive justice” emerged in 1994, the movement for reproductive freedom was dominated by the voices of white, cisgender, resourced women who had a singular focus on abortion. Many women of color, and black women in particular, felt excluded from the movement and wanted to see it include an analysis of the multiple oppressions marginalized communities face.

Economic, sexual, racial, disability, immigration, and religious factors keep many people from being able to make genuine choices about their reproductive lives. Recognizing the need for a more intersectional approach to addressing barriers to reproductive health, women of color activists launched a movement for “reproductive justice” rooted in human rights values, cognizant of all our identities and circumstances, and addressing a range of issues. Going beyond abortion, reproductive justice recognizes the right to have a child, the right not to have a child, the right to parent the children we have with dignity, the right to control our birthing options, the right to choose our sexual partners, and the right to control our own gender.