Ep. 47: Fighting for Reproductive Justice with Monica Simpson and Marsha Jones
Today, Dr. Renee and Dr. Cristina close Season 4 of Las Doctoras with a conversation with two special guests!
Our first guest is Monica Simpson, queer Black activist, artist, and executive director of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective. She takes us through her over 20 years of social justice work with a keen focus on sexual reproductive justice.
Monica starts all of her training sessions at SisterSong with the line: We all have a story to tell. She firmly believes that stories are our fuel. They provide purpose and motivation to all of our work in social justice, whatever the cause.
A group of Black women got together in 1994 to discuss healthcare reform for underrepresented communities, and the term they eventually came up with was reproductive justice, which is defined as “the human rights of bodily autonomy”. It’s very much intersectional, and encompasses our right to the children we want in the ways we want, to prevent or end shameful pregnancies and replace them with those of dignity.
Community and care are at the heart of the SisterSong movement. Monica talks about their upcoming Let’s Talk About Sex Conference in Dallas, Texas, at which the topic of conversation is the blueprint for body revolution. We're all so eager to start revolutionary work from so many different angles. Monica encourages us to slow down because, the truth is, it all starts with our first environment—our own body!
Our second guest is Marsha Jones, Founder and Executive Director at The Afiya Center, which was established in response to the increasing disparities between HIV incidences worldwide and the extraordinary prevalence of HIV among Black women and girls in Texas. TAC is unique in that it is the only Reproductive Justice (RJ) organization in North Texas founded and directed by Black women.
Having grown up in an old-school religious environment, Marsha had a lot of paradigms to shift when she came into her work. Her first step as she entered this fight concerning HIV was to center her work around social justice and human rights. She learned that, “It is these systems of oppression that drive HIV among Black women, not who we have sex with and how.”
Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, Marsha’s biggest fear is twofold: 1) When you start using language that is criminalizing in any way with people who are closer to the criminal justice system, there will be health and economic impacts; 2) A lack of resources for women who have experienced violent rape and have few or no options now that they are pregnant.
Voting is important, but it’s not the only thing we can (or should) do. We need more people to talk about this crucial issue, and to look at it from a reproductive lens to tell the entire story—the entire experience. Aside from the obvious health challenges faced by women with unwanted pregnancies, there are dangers of them losing their jobs or even their homes, especially if they live in an abusive household.
There are so many layers to this issue. Reproductive justice allows us to talk about factors which go beyond abortion. It is important, but is just one of many other pieces of the puzzle of reproductive justice!
Connect with Monica Simpson:
Visit the SisterSong website: www.sistersong.net
Join us at the upcoming Let’s Talk About Sex Conference: www.letstalkaboutsexconference.com
Follow Monica on Instagram: www.instagram.com/artivistmonicaraye
Connect with Marsha Jones:
Visit The Afiya Center website: www.theafiyacenter.org
Follow The Afiya Center on Instagram: www.instagram.com/theafiyacenter
Connect with Las Doctoras:
Visit their website: www.lasdoctoras.net
Follow them on Instagram: www.instagram.com/las.doctoras