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Reproductive freedom, abolition and trans rights are all entwined, organizers say

Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Calvionne Rayford, 29, originally of Kansas City, throws a fist in the air while demonstrating against a recent Supreme Court decision striking down Roe v. Wade on June 24 outside Planned Parenthood in St. Louis.

Abolition, climate justice and trans bodily autonomy are all tightly entwined with abortion rights — that’s according to two abortion rights activists in St. Louis.

Brianna Chandler, a student organizer at Washington University of St. Louis, and Kennedy Moore, a reproductive freedom organizer at Pro-Choice Missouri, joined St. Louis On The Air to talk about the intersections of various social issues and the importance of community organizing in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned.

The main difference between reproductive rights and reproductive justice, Moore said, is that reproductive rights call for reproductive health care to be legal, while reproductive justice calls for legality and accessibility.

Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Hundreds of demonstrators gather to protest a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade on June 24 outside Planned Parenthood in the Central West End.

“The official term reproductive justice was coined by a group called Sister Song in 1994,” Chandler added. “They defined it broadly as the right to have children, the right to not have children, and then to have those children in safe and sustainable communities. They go on to say … that [initiatives] led by middle-class white women really couldn't protect women of color and marginalized women and trans people.”

There has always been an overlap among issues like reproductive justice, abolition and trans rights, Chandler said. “It's not just racial justice, it's not just gender justice, it's about all these issues and how they're affected by overlapping and intersecting power structures.”

“Reproductive justice also involves the criminalization of the state,” Moore added, “because as we're seeing now with some laws, people are being criminalized for whatever reproductive choice they decide to make.”

Community is the most important thing when it comes to organizing, Chandler said, adding that it can be challenging to convince people that they do have the power to make change.

“[I’m] trying to help people realize that we're not helpless,” she said. “At the end of the day, the state is not going to protect us completely. We, as individuals [and] as community, we're all that we have. We keep us safe. That's a common abolitionist saying: ‘We keep us safe.’”

Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Cora Eckert, 8, of Trenton, Ill., fist bumps Kristen Wozniak, who goes by “Sister Jewnita Hug” and is a member of the Dirtiest Hoes of the Sacred Heartland, on June 24 during a demonstration in response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade at Planned Parenthood in the Central West End.

As NPR political correspondent Danielle Kurtzleben reported, the ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade has major implications for the unenumerated right to privacy in the Constitution. Moore said that this is why the ruling affects everyone, not just people who can get pregnant.

Moore and Chandler agree that donating to abortion funds is one of the most impactful ways people can support the abortion rights movement. Moore added that Pro-Choice Missouri is also working to empower people to act by offering education services and events.

“I would encourage people to lean into community,” Chandler added, “and lean into political education. Have those conversations. Learn about our rich history of resistance.”

To hear our upcoming conversation with anti-abortion organizers visit “Friday: What’s next for anti-abortion activists in the St. Louis area.”

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Avery is the Production Assistant for "St. Louis On The Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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