Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bringing Back Choice

When we're talking about reproductive freedom, it's important to consider how that issue intersects with race, geography, religion, and other factors. Something that I know very little about is how reproductive issues are addressed and treated in Native American cultures. RHReality Check has a piece today about what it means to be pro-choice in a Native American community.

The author, Jessica Yee, says that choice and a positive female sexual identity was always an inherent part of her culture. Because their society was matrilineal, their belief in women's control over their own bodies was natural. It was during colonization that a negative view of female choice and sexuality was integrated into their culture. It became uncomfortable to discuss female sexual and women began to lose some of the power they had in their community. Yee argues that as long as we live in a patriarchal society, there will always be arguments over abortion and reproductive rights.

Native American women, especially those living in northern Canada, have faced severe limitations to their reproductive rights throughout history, and continue to face obstacles. Another RHReality Check piece from earlier in 2008 talks about an amendment that prohibits federal spending for abortions for Native American women, except in rare cases. That is racist, no question about it, and it is disgusting that Native American women have to face increased limitations to their reproductive freedom because of race. This illustrates just how present racism still is in our society, and how much it effects the reproductive freedom of these women.


Bonnie said...

Wow - I had no idea that amendment existed. That's completely outrageous - haven't these people heard of the 14th amendment?!

Laur said...

Ellen--what a fascinating post! Great topic choice :)