I don't have enough hands or fingers to count how many lesbians and bisexual women I know that have had abortions. If lesbian and bisexual women can be parents, then they clearly choose not to be. I am not surprised by this knowledge, and you shouldn't be either. In fact, 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in their lifetime. ( www.1in3campaign.org/en/ )
In those numbers are women that have sex with women, women that have had sex with men and now have sex with women, women that have sex with both men and women; and transgendered individuals. There are many dynamics. There is no black or white. We know these stories even when they are unspoken. Yet, a large majority of the LGBT community is strangely quiet when it comes to fighting for reproductive rights, health and justice. Reproductive justice includes the right to an abortion and access to those services. Abortion access is a reproductive justice issue, therefore it is a LGBT issue. This is not rocket science.
LGBT individuals deserve reproductive rights. If anyone should know, it should be this community. After being marginalized, oppressed and stigmatized in society, the LGBT community in particular should be at the front of the line in the fight for full body autonomy. The ability to plan the family and family size you want is a human right. However, the conversation has been one that goes against anyone that is not "normal". The narrative is that it is not "normal" for a lesbian to get pregnant. Therefore, it is not "normal" for a lesbian to have an abortion.
None of this should matter. If a woman, any woman, chooses not to carry a pregnancy to term ( lesbian/bisexual/transgender/heterosexual ) she should not be shamed; and we all should stand up in this fight, whether she is a part of the LGBT community or not.
That is why reproductive justice is an important framework. In the 1990s, women of color caucused here in Chicago at a pro-choice conference. What they came away with was Reproductive Rights + Social Justice. This framework merges the Human Rights Declaration, social justice principles and reproductive rights into a framework that recognizes these basic tenets:
The ability to terminate a pregnancy
The ability to carry a pregnancy to term; and
The ability to parent the children you have without governmental interference
"Reproductive Justice is the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, economic, and social well-being of women and girls, and will be achieved when women and girls have the economic, social, and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about our bodies, sexuality, and reproduction for ourselves, our families, and our communities in all areas of our lives." ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reproductive_justice )
This framework encompasses all individuals as they demand their right to full autonomy. So when I hear members of the LGBT community say that reproductive rights does not concern them, I cringe. Oh yes it does concern you. Reproductive rights concern everyone. The fact is that all LGBT identified individuals are at risk of pregnancy if they are sexually active, either thru consensual or forced intercourse. Further, even if one is on birth control we know that no birth control is 100 percent effective and the possibility of getting pregnant is always present. Thus, the right to an abortion should be available, accessible and affordable for whoever needs it.
The LGBT community has allowed society and the media to frame the narrative in this issue. All human beings are affected when there are restrictions on the choices individuals make. There are clear and bold parallels in these movements. The very same right wing anti-choice individuals that work toward abortion restrictions, block abortion clinics and fund anti-choice politicians are the same individuals that are against marriage equality and LGBT freedom. That knowledge alone is enough to make people pay attention.
All movements towards justice intersect with one another. We must work together for equality. When we are divided we can be conquered. Yet, if we step back and connect the dots we would understand that no fights can be won when we have the same enemy.
Gaylon B. Alcaraz is the former Executive Director of the Chicago Abortion Fund, a community organizer and staunch reproductive justice advocate. You can follow her on twitter @gaylonalcaraz and contact her at email@example.com .