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dorothy roberts

For many women of color, the right to control one’s reproductive destiny has always been about much more than the right to abortion.

With the recent loss of the constitutional right to abortion in the US, some reproductive rights advocates are calling for a renewed focus on reproductive justice, a concept developed in the early 1990s by women of color. Reproductive justice stresses not just the right to abortion, but also economic, racial and environmental justice, along with other facets of social equality, as critical to true reproductive freedom.

Dorothy Roberts is an internationally renowned scholar of race, gender, and the law at the University of Pennsylvania, who has dedicated her career to exposing attacks on Black women’s reproductive rights dating back to slavery and persisting to the present. She argues that the supreme court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade validates what reproductive justice advocates have been arguing for years: that the mainstream reproductive rights agenda has been blind to how the state has overpoliced Black women’s reproductive lives.

Below, she discusses why the reproductive rights movement needs to...