The abortion debate remains so laden with fear, deceit, religious rhetoric, racism, and classism, that deciphering the truth from fact proves impossible. Does LifeAlways care about me, or are they hiding behind an ethic of care to push a public agenda to seize control over my private body? According to their website, thatsabortion.com, LifeAlways claims to promote the health of African Americans by spreading the truth about abortion. I support this mission. I support educating all women so we can avoid unwanted pregnancy. I support an ethic of pro-health. However, this billboard does not promote LifeAlways’ mission.
LifeAlways’ campaign attacks Black women and deepens the health disparity that is our reproductive system. LifeAlways adds to a body of discourse that stigmatizes Black women as promiscuous and sexually irresponsible, psychologically immature, and murderers. There is no truth in the headline. If LifeAlways wants to change our nation’s ideologies concerning abortion, attacking Black women’s wombs is an ineffective and misdirected plan.
I love the tagline, LifeAlways, but I’m not convinced. Life is impossible without reproductive justice. Reproductive justice is impossible without agency, the ability to make decisions based on unbiased information, unbiased health education, and culturally relevant research to fuel effective health messages. LifeAlways does not promote life because it does not promote health. Reproductive justice isn’t about a woman’s right to choose or a baby’s right to life, it is about our right to be represented fairly in advertisement, and our right to unbiased education and health.
The reproductive justice movement provides a full programmatic shift in the way we view and engage reproductive issues connected to everyone. It is not a matter of simply being pro-life or pro-choice because the collective issues that influence these outcomes are much deeper than surface labels. Reproductive imperialism dates back to 18th century efforts to exploit and abuse Black women to increase the slave population. Though its form has changed from enslavement to discriminatory welfare policies, abortion restrictions, and criminal prosecution, outsiders continue to control the reproductive choices of Black women. Reproductive justice places Black women at the center and embraces the full onset of communal issues affecting African American culture.
The ad campaign launched by LifeAlways inspired this week InMediaRes. I invited curators to talk about reproductive justice versus reproductive imperialism. We tackle what reproductive justice is and how reproductive imperialism manifests in media. Enjoy.