SWS Endorsed Statements

June 2019

I’m writing as a member of ASA’s Status of LGBTQ People in Sociology committee collaborating with a task for ASA’s Teresa Ciabattari convened regarding the ways ASA surveys members about sex, gender, and sexualities. Alex Hanna, Nik Lampe, and Alicia VandeVusse have put together a proposal for the member survey questions to be changed and are hoping to include endorsements from some ASA Section councils if they are willing. I’ve been tasked with asking whether the SWS Council would consider endorsing this proposal. And we have a quick turnaround (sorry). Would you be open to sending this to Council members to ask whether they would be willing to endorse the proposal (link to the proposal below)?https://docs.google.com/document/d/1htFW5bUh2UMFVq3KDK8mjBwQUGZUBvDlUVq_d2-Wz90/edit?usp=sharing If you’d be willing, we’d love to include SWS Council’s endorsement before submitting the proposal to ASA. And we would need to know by Friday this week (sorry for the quick turnaround). Let me know if you have any questions and thank you for your consideration.

June 2019

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

You may have been following reports following New York’s passage of the Reproductive Health Act (RHA), asserting that the RHA somehow increases the risk of gender violence.  We are writing to ask you to sign on to and join the attached statement challenging those claims and other false claims linking laws criminalizing abortion and related feticide laws with protection of women from violence.

Claims that laws such as the RHA pose a threat to women’s safety, and that laws criminalizing abortion somehow protect people from gender violence are dangerous and totally unfounded.  We write to speak out against gender violence in all its forms and to oppose false claims about criminal abortion laws that distract attention from real threats to life and health.

We call for laws and policies based on evidence-based research and urge all those who are truly concerned with preventing intimate partner and other forms of gender violence to oppose laws that can be used to criminalize people for seeking to control their bodies and their lives.  Instead, they should support universal health care and other needed services for everyone, including survivors.

This statement will be circulated broadly to policymakers and to the media whenever this issue (equating criminal abortion laws with protecting pregnant women from violence) emerges. For example, this statement will provide important insights and framing in states such as Rhode Island and Vermont where activists are working to repeal their old criminal abortion laws and replace them with laws like the RHA that actually respect the life and health of everyone, including those with the capacity for pregnancy. It will anticipate and be used to oppose false claims and counterproductive policy proposals that emerge whenever there is a high profile murder of or attack on a pregnant woman. And, the statement, posted online, will stand as a repudiation of such things as the Kansas Resolution condemning New York’s RHA.  The statement also will inform conversations about gender violence occurring in the wake of Alabama’s sweeping anti-abortion legislation that effectively bans all abortions without an exception for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.

To sign on, please click here.  The new deadline for signing on is Friday, June 14th.

If you have questions, feel free to contact Julie Goldscheid, CUNY Law School at goldscheid@law.cuny.edu, or Kendall Bentsen, NAPW at kdb@advocatesforpregnantwomen.org.

Thanks in advance, and in solidarity,

May/June 2019

Joint Appeal to Defend NGO Rights & Protest Anti-Muslim Racism by China, NWSA Statement Endorsement

May 22, 2019

The National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) is a professional association of feminist scholars committed to social justice and academic inquiry. We strongly condemn the current attacks on reproductive choice and add our voice to the chorus of opposition. Autonomy over our bodies, including our reproductive choices, is fundamental. NWSA members have upheld this principle in our scholarship and practice for over four decades. We reiterate it today in these urgent times.

The new spate of laws limiting the right to abortion that is sweeping the country is alarming. In the past few months Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, Ohio, and Missouri have passed restrictive legislation with other states poised to pass similar laws. In most of these cases, state legislators have made abortion illegal when a so-called “fetal heartbeat” is detected, which is usually around six weeks; in reality, what is being measured is fetal cardiac pole activity, since a six-week fetus does not have a heart.  Alabama’s law goes further and prohibits all abortion except when necessary to save the mother’s life. The aim of these laws is to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

The new laws are just one manifestation of a very long history of controlling women’s reproduction that includes forcing enslaved Black women to reproduce for economic profit; encouraging white women to reproduce to prevent “race suicide”; enacting forced sterilization on populations (often majority people of color) deemed unfit; outlawing abortion and birth control; reducing access to health care for poor pregnant mothers or neonatal babies; drug testing pregnant women and taking their babies if they test positive; forcing incarcerated people to labor and give birth in chains; and limiting welfare and childcare assistance to impoverished women.

The women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s saw reproductive rights as inextricably linked to liberation and the full personhood of women, fighting on multiple fronts to ensure that women have freedom to control their reproduction, including abortion rights, an end to forced sterilization, access to birth control and the expansion of social and economic support for poor mothers and children. More recently, “reproductive justice” has been elaborated by Black women and other women of color as a broad framework that names these historic struggles and offers a human rights basis for the fight, saying that every individual must have the right to decide if and when they will have a child and the conditions under which they will give birth; decide if they will not have a child and their options for preventing or ending a pregnancy; parent the children they already have with the necessary social supports in safe environments and healthy communities, and without fear of violence from individuals or the government; and, have bodily autonomy free from all forms of reproductive oppression.

Since the passage of Roe v. Wade, there has been a concerted effort to undermine the substance of the Supreme Court decision. In 1977, Congress passed the Hyde Amendment, which prohibited federal funding for abortion and made it less accessible to poor women. In addition, states have imposed prohibitive regulations on abortion providers, imposed a “global gag rule” that denies US federal funding to any overseas organization that provides or even counsels women on abortion, and instituted myriad other measures.

The current spate of laws affects all people who can get pregnant, but hits poor women, women of color, gender-variant, and trans individuals the hardest since they often have fewer options. NWSA stands firm in its support of reproductive justice and condemns any attempt to curtail or control the reproductive decisions of anyone.

SIGNED by the Executive Committee (EC) with affiliations*

Premilla Nadasen, President, Barnard College
Barbara Ransby, Past President, University of Illinois at Chicago
Diane Harriford, Vice President, Vassar College
Patti Duncan, Secretary, Oregon State University
Karma Chávez, Treasurer, The University of Texas at Austin

(*affiliations for identification purposes only)