“Reproductive justice” is generally code for “abortion on demand and without apology.” I propose we talk about “authentic reproductive justice,” which means justice for the child.
Justice for children means that every child conceived has a right to be welcomed into life. The financial condition or age or belief systems of their parents are irrelevant. Equality for children means every child is treated the same from conception until birth: cared for by their parents, and welcomed into life.
The shallow concept of “reproductive justice” that we have currently enshrined in our laws cannot last for even a single generation. Sure, men and women may be more equal in education and income. But, children whose parents get married and stay married have immeasureable advantages over children whose parents divorce or never marry. The differences among the rich and the poor, the educated and the less educated, increase in the subsequent generation.
Equality and justice for children means that every child has a right to a relationship with both of their natural parents, unless some unavoidable tragedy prevents it. Death, mental illness, serious illness — these tragedies separate children from their parents. Desertion, abuse, incarceration — the parent left behind may have no responsible choice other than keeping their children away from their other parent.
“I don’t want to have a relationship with your other parent.”
“My relationship with my new sex partner is more important to me than my relationship with your other parent.”
“My new life and vision of myself is more important to me than my relationship with you.”
These are not unavoidable tragedies. These are acts of injustice by one parent perpetrated on their children and their spouse.
But you may ask, what do these have to do with “reproductive justice?” The concept of Authentic Reproductive Justice means that each parent commits to spending a lifetime in a relationship with the other parent that allows their child to have a functioning, supportive relationship with both of them.
- treating the child’s other parent with respect: after all, the other parent is half of who your child is. If you disrespect the child’s other parent, you are disrepecting at least half of your child.
- making sure your child can spend time with his or her other parent.
- giving the child’s other parent significant input into all major decisions regarding the child’s life and upbringing.
- supporting, not undermining the other parent’s authority and status in the child’s eyes.
- having such a relationship with the other parent before even giving birth.
- choosing the other parent carefully enough that spending a lifetime co-parenting is an imaginable and even joyful prospect.
- and since all forms of contraception sometimes fail, only choosing to have sex with individuals whom you can treat according to the above criteria.
In other words, Authentic Reproductive Justice, which takes account of the human rights of the mother, the father and the child means:
- get married
- stay married
- have sex only with your spouse
- love your spouse.
Our current understanding of “reproductive justice” that only considers “equality” between men and women, or “equality” in education, jobs and money is a superficial, dim shadow of Authentic Reproductive Justice. This is a technocratic vision, focused solely on material things.
Authentic Reproductive Justice focuses on the more humane, deeper realities of relationships, identity and love.
I can only think of one social philosophy that endorses this deeper concept of justice, and that provides the tools to bring it about: the ancient teachings of Christianity. One man, one woman, for life. If you are a Christian, especially if you are a Catholic Christian, please respect what Jesus is trying to do for us. Embrace it. Live it. Be grateful for it. (Matthew 19; Mark 10)
This article originally appeared at The Ruth Institute and is used with permission.