Reproductive Justice Promotes Child and Family Mental Health

Sep 22 / TEKU
Reproductive justice is a framework that goes beyond the traditional concept of reproductive rights by considering various intersecting factors, such as race, class, gender, and socioeconomic status, that can impact individuals' ability to make informed choices about their reproductive lives. This approach emphasizes the importance of access to resources, healthcare, and support for all individuals and families, particularly those who have been historically marginalized.  It has three core principles, which include birthing people’s right to have or not have a child, birth justice (ability to manipulate the conditions in which we have children) and the ability to parent our children in a safe and healthy environment.  The LGBTQ+ movement added a fourth principle regarding bodily autonomy, gender identity and sexual pleasure. 

The reproductive justice model includes three tenets.  They are reproductive health through service delivery, reproductive rights through legal advocacy, and reproductive justice through human rights organizing. As a survivor of racial violence, rape and incest, Loretta Ross, reproductive justice and human rights activist and 1 of 12 Black women who started the reproductive justice movement, shares how she needed to “find another moral compass for my life’s work, and that compass had to shift from hate to love.” Love offers all of us a path toward supportive care, compassion and justice.

This loving path will not only benefit those on the receiving end of this care and advocacy, but it will also benefit our kids and future generations.  Through the creation of loving and supportive communities, reproductive justice offers several potential benefits for child and family mental health. Loretta Ross reminds us, if we start this work when the person is pregnant, we have started too late.

Reproductive justice has several potential benefits for child and family mental health, and as Loretta Ross reminds us, if we start this work when the person is pregnant, we have started too late.

Stress, trauma and violence prior to the pregnancy can determine if a woman would keep an unexpected pregnancy.  This work invites us to center prevention as we continue to foster children’s mental health.  

Here are some ways children and families benefit from this work:

Reduced Stress and Anxiety: Access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare, including contraception, family planning, and safe abortion services, can help individuals and families make choices that align with their life circumstances and goals. This can lead to reduced stress and anxiety related to unplanned pregnancies and the emotional toll of navigating limited options.

Informed Decision-Making: Reproductive justice encourages comprehensive sex education and access to accurate information about reproductive health. When individuals have the knowledge to make informed decisions about their reproductive lives, they are more likely to feel empowered and confident in their choices. This can contribute to healthier family dynamics and overall mental well-being.

Support for Parenting Choices: Reproductive justice recognizes that individuals have diverse parenting choices, including the decision to become a parent, the number of children to have, and the spacing between them. When people are supported in making the choices that best suit their circumstances, they are more likely to have positive parenting experiences, which can impact family mental health.

Equity and Social Justice: Reproductive justice advocates for addressing systemic inequalities that impact individuals' reproductive options. When marginalized communities have better access to healthcare, education, and economic opportunities, it can lead to improved family mental health outcomes by reducing stressors related to financial instability, discrimination, and lack of resources.

Reduced Stigma: Reproductive justice challenges stigmatization of reproductive choices, including decisions related to abortion, adoption, and single parenting. Reducing stigma can contribute to better mental health outcomes for individuals and families, as they won't feel isolated or judged for their choices.

Holistic Approach: Reproductive justice recognizes that reproductive health is interconnected with other aspects of well-being, such as economic stability, education, and healthcare. By addressing these interconnected issues, individuals and families can experience improved mental health outcomes.

Community Support and Engagement: Reproductive justice advocates for community-based approaches and support networks. Strong communities and social networks can provide emotional support, reduce isolation, and create environments where individuals and families feel valued and respected.

A reproductive justice framework that prioritizes access to information, resources, holistic healthcare and support can positively impact child and family mental health by reducing stress, promoting informed decision-making, supporting diverse parenting choices, addressing systemic inequalities, reducing stigma, taking a holistic approach to well-being, and fostering strong community networks.  Our kids deserve safe and loving environments where they can all thrive.

Created with