Woman Crush(ing the Patriarchy) Wednesday: Juana Rosa Cavero

Woman Crush(ing the Patriarchy) Wednesday: Juana Rosa Cavero

This week’s #WCW Juana Rosa Cavero is a reproductive justice warrior.

MORE: Woman Crush(ing the Patriarchy) Wednesday: Melanie Cervantes

For more than a decade, the Afro-Peruvian mujer has worked for (and with) various social justice groups to ensure that communities of color have access to the reproductive health care they need.

Here, the Los Angeles-based Latina discusses the need for cross-movement work and explains how issues of immigration, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, region and so much more impact our reproductive lives.

You have worked in the field of reproductive justice for many years. Can you describe the concept of reproductive justice to our readers?

I use SisterSong’s definition, and it states, “reproductive justice is the human right to have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and healthy environments.” To further explain, I use a tool that was created by Forward Together, which offers a comparison to the various terms of reproductive health, reproductive rights and reproductive justice. Since many people make assumptions about the various terms, it’s helpful to begin where people are when they hear the word “reproductive.” Reproductive rights are about ensuring that there are legal protections for the decisions that we want to make about and with our bodies (i.e. Roe v. Wade). Reproductive health is about access to health care (i.e. a new clinic in town, mammograms and cervical cancer screenings). Reproductive justice is about looking at the whole person and acknowledging their current political, economic and social situation (i.e. is there a bus line that gets to the new clinic? Does the new clinic offer comprehensive reproductive healthcare options at low cost? Is care provided in the appropriate language? Have the staff been trained in LGBTQ+ sensitivity?)

Why is this framework necessary when working with communities of color?

A reproductive justice framework is critical because it was born out of women of color, women living in poverty and LGBTQ+ people who did not see themselves in mainstream choice movements. “Choice,” or the assumption that all people have a “choice,” is erroneous. A woman living in poverty really does not have many choices about where to get healthcare. Even with Medicaid expansion in many states, her healthcare options are still restricted to whatever clinic she can get to on public transportation and then whatever reproductive healthcare options are offered at that clinic site. Ensuring that comprehensive reproductive healthcare is part of healthcare reform is reproductive justice. And it’s more. Will a transgender woman with symptoms of a serious illness come back to a clinic if she is treated poorly and humiliated by the staff? Simply providing services at a clinic is not enough. Roe v. Wade is not enough.

Would immigration, then, be a reproductive justice issue?

Yes. Immigration reform and deportation are reproductive justice issues. Both here and abroad, Latino cultural values have sustained and guarded our communities. An example of this would be grandparents coming to stay with a new mother during the first few days or months of a new birth. Yet, now with rampant deportations and illogical immigration laws, a new mother must figure out how to birth alone and take care of her other kids while a partner works longer hours at a minimum wage job. And if her or her partner are deported, an entire family is torn apart. Those parents cannot parent in a safe and healthy environment under those conditions. Current immigration policy is directly impacting and restricting her right to parent in a safe and healthy environment. Moreover, her ability to get to any other follow-up healthcare appointments for contraception or postnatal care is now even further restricted due to fear of raids and incarceration.   

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