This Week in Our BodiesPopulation Control Isn’t the Answer to the Climate Crisis

An illustration of a variety of bodies in neutral tones.

Illustration by Jessica De Jesus

In 2019, reproductive rights are in limbo. Nearly every week, another state attempts to pass a trickily-worded law to limit access to abortion, and with the upcoming 2020 presidential election, we’re waiting for a discourse around reproductive justice that’s more than just lip service. But we can’t give up hope. There have been, and continue to be, some wins, and the most vulnerable among us can’t afford for us to accept the losses along the way.

Reproductive rights matter, and each week, we’re bringing you news, alerts, and updates on who’s trying to control our bodies and lives—plus actionable ways you can get involved right now.

1. The 40 Days for Life Campaign has started, and protestors are harrassing those seeking abortions in Alabama. []

Here’s what happened: The 40 Days for Life campaign is an international effort, running from September 25 to November 3, that encourages its volunteers to do the kind of “outreach,” that regularly translates into increased clinic protests and harassment of those seeking reproductive healthcare. Alabama, in particular, is already a frequent target: Only three clinics in the state provide abortions, and one (Reproductive Health Services, in Montgomery), has been actively targeted by these volunteers. They attempt to distract and redirect patients in need of services by asking them to skip their appointments in favor of ultrasounds, and have lunches as a group outside of the clinic.

Here’s what you can do: Donate to Power House, a reproductive justice organization that provides housing for patients who must travel to get reproductive healthcare, along with offering clinic escorts and additional services. You can also find out when 40 Days for Life is happening in your area so you can make sure to avoid the space—or, even better, speak with your state’s representatives about the impact it has on your community.

2. Population control isn’t the answer to the climate crisis. [Ms. Magazine]

Here’s what happened: Over at Ms., Yifat Susskind writes that population control has become a scapegoat for climate change—an age-old dog whistle that advocates for controlling the fertility of women of color and poor women, and has legitimized practices like forced sterilization.

Here’s what you can do: Be willing to fight climate change in ways that require more thought and nuance than what politicians and the mainstream want to promote. The idea that it’s “easier” to control people’s bodies than to, say, hold corporations responsible for environmental impact—and that it’s specifically women of color with too many children” who are the problem—is very much based in racism. Climate change is scary, but finding solutions will require much more than seeking to punish the most marginalized among us—who are, too, already working to protect the planet.

3. At the NARAL Pro-Choice American 50th-Anniversary Dinner, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton shared their concern for the state of reproductive rights. [HuffPost]

Here’s what happened: Reproductive justice was a prominent topic of conversation at the NARAL Pro-Choice American 50th-Anniversary Dinner. Prior to the dinner, NARAL President Ilyse Hogue wrote in a statement, “Evidence presented shows that this President has abused his power, obstructed justice, and obstructed Congress from fulfilling their duty as he tramples our freedoms and pushes an extreme agenda.” Clinton stated, “In the last Democratic debate, there was not one single question about abortion rights. It has to be a critical issue in 2020.”

Here’s what you can do: As Clinton said, reproductive rights, reproductive access, and abortion must be a topic of conversation among our 2020 presidential candidates. Keep a close eye on what the candidates both are and aren’t saying about reproductive rights. It’s not optional.

4. A woman having a miscarriage was sent home three times by a Catholic hospital. [Rewire]

Here’s what happened: This week, it came to light that, in 2013, a woman in Bellingham, Washington who was experiencing a miscarriage went to the nearest facility she could find— PeaceHealth, a Catholic hospital. Despite her obvious physical pain—it turned out she was experiencing life-threatening sepsis—they turned her away and sent her home. One doctor did tell the woman that her pregnancy was unviable and she needed surgery—but that the hospital refuses, on religious grounds, to perform abortions. Rewire’s reporting puts the human cost of such practices in Catholic hospitals at the forefront of reproductive healthcare conversations.

Here’s what you can do: Catholic hospitals (or any faith-based hospitals) shouldn’t be able to conceal their stances on reproductive healthcare—especially when they’re in immediate danger. As Rewire suggests, these hospitals need to be transparent and disclose up front what they can and cannot do for patients because of their religious decisions. Get educated about the topic, and see if hospitals with similar leanings exist in your community. You can reach out to your representatives and community leaders to pressure these hospitals to be required to disclose their policies upfront.


Rachel Charlene Lewis, who has light brown skin and dark brown curly hair, wears a white button up and gold jewelry and gold glasses.
by Rachel Charlene Lewis
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Rachel Charlene Lewis has written about culture, identity, and the internet for publications including i-D, Teen Vogue, Refinery29, Greatist, Glamour, Autostraddle, Ravishly, SELF, StyleCaster, The Frisky (RIP), The Mary Sue, and elsewhere. Her literary work, reviews, and interviews have been published in Catapult, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Normal School, Publisher’s Weekly, The Offing, and in several other magazines. She is on Twitter and Instagram, always.