How Can Men Get Involved in the Reproductive Justice Movement?

Written by: Barbara Ford – A4W News Group


Although men have been sympathetic and supportive of reproductive rights, they often don’t know what they can do, or feel uncomfortable talking with other men about what has been a traditionally “woman’s issue.”

What is Reproductive Justice?

What is reproductive justice, and what does it mean to men?  How can men “show up” for people with a uterus?  I am truly curious. In this short article, we will explore these questions and you will hear from several men in our EUUC congregation. So, read on and be informed!

SisterSong (a black feminist organization) defines reproductive justice as “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.”

In Reproductive Rights vs. Reproductive Justice: Why the Difference Matters in Bioethics, Danielle M. Pacia states: The reproductive justice framework acknowledges the ways that socioeconomic status, gender, and race shape reproductive health care experiences and health policy. Essentially, the reproductive rights framework is a more individualistic and legal approach, while reproductive justice is expansive, intersectional, and holistic.

How Some EUUC Men Show Up

EUUC has progressive men who care about this issue.  I asked two of them, Adam Lucke and Fred Tuttle, two questions about reproductive justice. Here’s what they said:

Interview with Fred Tuttle:

Barbara: What does reproductive justice mean to you?

Fred: It’s in my thoughts these days, but not something I’ve expressed. Mary Ann and I have contributed to Planned Parenthood for years. I support their mission. Women need to have broader health care support. When the Supreme Court said they were removing the right to an abortion, Mary Ann and I went to Highway 99 for a demonstration of our support of Reproductive Rights.

Planned Parenthood has services for men as well as women, and I believe that all those things should be provided through our general health care. (vasectomies, cancer screening for men and women, abortions.) Since many hospitals have merged with catholic hospitals, a lot of those reproductive health services have disappeared.

Barbara: What can men do to further the cause of reproductive justice?

Fred: We can all contribute to Planned Parenthood or other organizations that provide comprehensive reproductive health care. Protest. Vote! It is becoming more and more important to support candidates and legislation who support a full range of health care options.


Interview with Adam Lucke:

Barbara: What does reproductive justice mean to you?

Adam: Having access to all aspects of reproductive health as an individual, is key. We need to work in communities to make sure that underserved populations have access to all services. There are so many unintended consequences. (a woman unable to get medical help in a life-threatening situation, should the fetus be compromised, for instance) Legislation is also very important. We need to support candidates who believe that ALL people are able to get the health care they need.

Barbara: What can men do to further the cause of reproductive justice?

Adam: Showing up to vote is very important! Along with speaking out against injustice when we see it and training our children to be strong and advocating for justice! Another very important role men can play is to share the responsibility for family planning by getting a vasectomy!


Abortion Rights are Just One Part of Reproductive Justice

According to Gallup polling about eight in 10 Americans think abortion should be legal in at least some circumstances.  This is support that has held steady for years. While men are included in the 8 in 10, researchers have found that they often don’t know how to talk about it or they have viewed it as a topic where women should lead. “It’s not so much that [men] weren’t supportive, it’s that they weren’t loud about it,” says Angela Vasquez-Giroux of NARAL Pro-Choice America. “What we’re seeing now is a new segment of that eight in 10 has been given a reason to get active.”  To capitalize on this interest, campaigners have been experimenting with new messengers in abortion-related ads and also with different ways of coaching men on how to speak about the issue.

Men care about their wives, girlfriends and daughters, and want them to be safe. Restrictive legislation regarding abortion and sexual health care prevents women from getting what they need.  Many men are asking the question: If my daughter were pregnant, and something went wrong medically, would she have access to the medical remedy to save her life?’”

Here are a few ways that men can “show up.”

  1. Having men talk to each other about abortion rights is “critical” to their buy-in as “stakeholders” rather than just “allies,” says Oren Jacobson, Founder of Men4Choice, a group that works to educate and mobilize men in support of abortion rights. “We have to recognize the reality in this country that for far too long, men haven’t been listening to women.” … “We believe that the most persuasive and effective communicators to help change men’s mind about this are other men.”  Read more on men’s reluctance to speak about “Women’s Issues” in: The Gender Gap in the Abortion Debate
  2. Ask relevant questions of your friends and relatives. Recently my mom and I were talking about abortion, and she said, “but it’s killing a baby.” I replied with, “But what if my sister or I had been faced with a tubal pregnancy and unable to get help because it would kill a potential baby. We could have died. “Oh!” she said.
  3. Support Planned Parenthood or other full service organizations. PP has many services for men as well as women. Testicular cancer screenings, vasectomies, reproductive counseling, are among their inclusive array of services.
  4. Join with others to march for reproductive justice. In fact…here’s a Women’s March this month!
  5. Share the responsibility and burden of family planning by getting a vasectomy.

According to Sistersong, reproductive justice is a human right. RJ is based on the United Nations’ internationally accepted Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a comprehensive body of law that details the rights of individuals and the responsibilities of government to protect those rights. It’s about access, not choice. Mainstream movements have focused on keeping abortion legal as an individual choice. That is necessary, but not enough. Even when abortion is legal, many women of color cannot afford it, or cannot travel hundreds of miles to the nearest clinic. There is no choice where there is no access. Abortion access is critical, and women of color and other marginalized women also often have difficulty accessing: contraception, comprehensive sex education, STI prevention and care, alternative birth options, adequate prenatal and pregnancy care, domestic violence assistance, adequate wages to support our families, safe homes, and so much more.

I am so grateful to belong to this EUUC community who cares about reproductive justice for all people, and who are out there every day, helping to make this world a better place. Whether you are marching, voting, working to change legislation, donating, talking to friends and family…You are making a difference!