I was born in 1973. Legal abortion has been a given all of my life. I know many women, including close family members, who have had them. I have not. I was fortunate to be raised in the 1970s by parents who believe in women's equality and self-determination. My mother took it upon herself to talk to me about sex, birth control and all of my choices from the time that she thought I would understand. It was uncomfortable, funny, even embarrassing. The actual result? I have had two pregnancies, and two children. One intended, one unintended, both wanted. My beliefs allowed me to connect on a spiritual level with my daughters from the moment I thought about conceiving them, so I did consider them as spiritual beings from before their point of viability. I am not sure if abortion would be something I would choose if I found myself with an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. But I believe in each woman's right and responsibility to make these determinations for herself and her family.
As a woman of color working in the field of reproductive justice, I know that these beliefs put me in line with many of my sisters of color. Our spiritual and cultural beliefs often lead us to the "I wouldn't do it - but I wouldn't take away my sister's right to it" perspective on abortion and the pro-life/pro-choice dichotomy often does not fit our specific experiences.
I am inspired by the work we do at SisterSong for that reason - we are about addressing those specific experiences that go beyond "Choice" and advocate for "Choices" - choices about if, when, how, and under what circumstances to reproduce and choices about how we raise the children we have. These choices must be informed by accurate and accessible sexuality education.
SisterSong will address the need for quality, comprehensive sexual education in our upcoming conference, "Let's Talk About Sex!" to be held in Chicago , May 31 - June 3, 2007 . This will be the pro-sex conference for the pro-choice movement and we encourage mothers and daughters, educators and providers, activists and academics to join us in creating a space for truth, dialogue, mobilization, storytelling and healing around issues of sex and sexuality.
At the conference, we expect 1,200 participants to join us in creating these spaces and locating these discussions within the context of the Reproductive Justice Framework. This framework places issues of reproductive and sexual health and rights in the broader social justice movement. And, in speaking truth to the realities of the women of color that we represent, reproductive justice encompasses the right to have a child, the right not to have a child and the right to parent the children that we already have.
For more information about the "Let's Talk About Sex!" Conference, please visit SisterSong's website at www.sistersong.net or call us at 404-344-9629.