PALESTINE: A Reproductive Justice Issue
SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective defines reproductive justice as “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.” Reproductive justice is a framework that combines reproductive rights and social justice, and was first fought for by Indigenous women, women of color, and trans people.
At the core of reproductive justice is the need to center the most marginalized, address intersecting oppressions, and join together across issues and identities. With that, we can understand that Palestine and the freedom of the Palestinian people is an issue of reproductive justice.
Thanks to SisterSong, Nada Elia, Nadine Naber, Rabab Abdulhadi, Evelyn Alsultany, Leanne Gale, Gabi Kirk, and Mary Hazboun.
Freedom – No place is safe for Palestinians under Israel’s separate-and-unequal apartheid regime. Homes are terrorized by the Israeli military in late-night arrest raids and are under perpetual threat of demolition. Schools are subjected to raids by the Israeli military that pull children from their classrooms. Workplaces and houses of worship are targeted by Israeli bombing campaigns, particularly in the Gaza Strip. Under those circumstances, ongoing trauma—particularly among children—is both widespread and undertreated. According to a study by Doctors Without Borders, around 25% of Palestinian children across the occupied Palestinian territory under the age of 15 suffer from PTSD.
Safety – Palestine is an issue of freedom, justice, and equality. With Israel’s establishment in 1948, 750,000 native Palestinians were expelled from their homeland. Israel then built a separate-and-unequal apartheid regime, a system of privilege for Israeli Jews and a matrix of control and domination for Palestinians. For Palestinians, it manifests as racial profiling and criminalization; the violent theft of their land and resources; denying refugees the right to return to their homes; second-class citizenship for Palestinian citizens of Israel; and a brutal military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip that separates families by incarcerating Palestinian men and boys, denying freedom of movement, and more. Israeli restrictions on Palestinian freedom impact every stage of life: Palestinian political prisoners, often being held without charge or trial, are shackled during childbirth. Under this system of Israeli oppression, Palestinian lives and bodies are simultaneously devalued, dehumanized, and obsessively controlled.
Autonomy – Israel has an explicit goal of maintaining a Jewish demographic majority in the country, necessitating the reproductive oppression of Palestinian women, while treating white Jewish Israeli women as reproductive vessels. Israel’s apartheid system separates Palestinian families in many ways: by denying Palestinian refugees return to their homes and families, by revoking the residency rights of 14,500 Palestinians from Jerusalem in order to maintain a Jewish demographic majority in the city, to prohibiting Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory from legally living with spouses who are Israeli citizens. Israel also enacts racist reproductive injustice upon non-white Jews in Israel, subjecting groups such as Ethiopian Jews, Yemeni Jews, and African migrants to forced contraception and sterilization.
Access – For Palestinians, access to reproductive healthcare and the ability to reach it is severely limited by Israel’s military occupation, which includes the siege of 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. As a result of the occupation, the Palestinian healthcare system is drastically underresourced, meaning access to adequate prenatal and postnatal care, treatment, and medicine is impossible for many Palestinian families. For instance, Palestinians in East Jerusalem only have access to 10 infant health clinics, compared to 26 in Israeli West Jerusalem. Palestinians face massive restrictions on freedom of movement in the form of military checkpoints, closures, and a wall that cuts through Palestinian land and cities. 1 in 10 Palestinian women in labor are delayed in reaching hospitals by military checkpoints, which can result in them being forced to give birth in unsafe, undignified, and sometimes fatal conditions.
Campaign to grow the movement
Take action to help people gain the safety to raise your children free from incarceration and policing, from the US to Palestine:
- Support Rep. Betty McCollum’s soon to be reintroduced bill to end child detention
- Fund and support the Black Mamas Bailout
Educate to raise political consciousness
Host an educational opportunity with your group:
- Share Visualizing Palestine’s graphics, including this one on Palestinians born at checkpoints
- Screen 3,000 Nights by Mai Masri or Naila and the Uprising by Julia Bacha
- Read and discuss Nada Elia’s Ending Zionism is a feminist issue or Leanne Gale and Gabi Kirk’s Why the Occupation is a Reproductive Justice Issue
- Host your own Palestine Solidarity and Reproductive Justice workshop
Organize your organization
Work with your organization or group to get them to embrace reproductive justice for all by supporting the BDS call and adopting language from our progressive vision, from the US to Palestine:
- Sign the petition for a progressive vision
- Work towards progressive policy stances on Palestine from the Primer: Towards a Progressive Vision of Justice for All
- Work to adopt policies in response to the Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS
- Reproductive Justice by SisterSong
- NARAL at AIPAC: And Reproductive Justice for Some? by Nada Elia
- Ending Zionism Is a Feminist Issue by Nada Elia
- Justice Is Indivisible: Palestine as a Feminist Issue by Nada Elia
- Arab and Arab American Feminisms by Nadine Naber, Rabab Abdulhadi, & Evelyn Alsultany
- Why the Occupation is a Reproductive Justice Issue by Leanne Gale & Gabi Kirk