Why ecofascism can never co-opt reproductive justice
Despite how reproductive rights have historically been co-opted to advance ecofascism and continue to be militarized to this day, reproductive justice is inherently at odds with ecofascist ideologies.
By Kylie Cheung
At the end April, more than 140 organizations sent a letter calling on President Biden to lift the Helms Amendment, a policy that bans US funding for abortion care abroad. The letter follows the Biden administration’s early decision to lift executive order known as the Global Gag Rule, which denied funding to global organizations that offer contraception and even information on abortion care. But even without the global gag rule, because of Helms, US foreign aid still cannot directly fund abortion services abroad.
American reproductive rights advocates often cite high maternal and infant mortality rates in less wealthy countries and the South for their support for lifting Helms. Countries with more restrictions and barriers around abortion care disproportionately higher pregnancy and childbirth mortality rates. Raise Helms and fund abortion and reproductive care in the United States and abroad is crucial for the well-being and empowerment of all pregnant women, but our advocacy for global abortion funding must be placed in a much needed context with the long and traumatic history of white reproduction. human rights leaders entangle their movement in ecofascism, eugenics and colonialism. It is in this context that we can ensure that our advocacy is rooted in reproductive justice – a broader framework developed by black women in the 1990s, calling not only for legal reproductive rights, but the full range of resources and supports each of us needs to be a parent, choose not to be a parent, and live and thrive in safe and healthy communities.
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Ecofascism is a white supremacist ideology that attributes the climate crisis to overpopulation and migration, rather than unchecked power and the destructiveness of corporations and the mega-rich. Historically, many white birth control and reproductive rights advocates have relied on dehumanizing and racist narratives of population control and reducing waste, consumption and poverty. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was famous radicalized by the work of economist Thomas Robert Malthus, who argued that overpopulation was inevitable, and that one day there would not be enough resources to sustain humanity, ushering in an inevitable apocalypse. To this day, these stories are sometimes incorporated into the support of some reproductive rights advocates for funding of global family planning programs.
Eco-fascist values are not only put forward by the extreme right and the overt and shameless white supremacists. Numerous Research papers and advocacy campaigns similarly have argued that birth control and reproductive health care could face the climate catastrophe, as they claim that the climate catastrophe is caused by overpopulation and overconsumption. But poverty, climate change and human suffering are not caused by a lack of resources – rather, they are the product of a very unequal distribution of resources due to capitalism and colonialism.
Responsibility for climate change can hardly be blamed on the world’s poor, as people the poorest half of the world’s population produces only 10% of all carbon emissions, while the richest 10% produce half of all emissions. Likewise, the The richest 16% of the world’s population consume 80% of all natural resources, and just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions.
The hypothesis that overpopulation leads to climate catastrophe, rather than capitalism, suggests that we all consume and have equal access to land, resources and wealth, when we don’t. Businesses and the rich waste exponentially more and contribute more to the climate catastrophe than the poor and the poorest countries. Yet it is the poor people of color who bear the brunt of the consequences: According to the American Journal of Public Health, Black communities are exposed to 56% more pollution than the amount of pollution caused by their consumption; Latinx communities are 63% more exposed.
Ecofascism ignores how, under capitalism, those most likely to suffer from poverty and the toxic effects of climate change on health are often those who consume the least. Rather than redistributing land and resources to cope with climate catastrophe and support the health and well-being of poor communities of color, the solution of ecofascism is to defend capitalism and dehumanize and control reproduction. families of color.
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Despite how reproductive rights have historically been co-opted to advance ecofascism and continue to be militarized to this day, reproductive justice is inherently at odds with ecofascist ideologies. Indeed, reproductive justice goes beyond legal rights and requires the redistribution of wealth and resources to ensure that families and communities can thrive. It requires significant and tangible investments in our communities, encourages us to plan our families as we see fit, and allows us to have as few or as many children as we want, with all the resources we need to care for. of our families and ourselves. .
As advocates continue their efforts to push Biden and Congress on the Helms Amendment, it is crucial to challenge the liberal narratives of the White Saviors, who have often lent eco-fascist ideals a shiny varnish of benevolence. Specifically, the fiercely anti-abortion policies of many countries in the Global South are a direct product of colonialism, rather than racist stereotypes that non-white countries are “backward” or less “civilized.” Abortion by a wide range of methods has existed in all civilizations for as long as pregnancy existed. Today’s punitive policies that demonize and outlaw abortion care span centuries of religious persecution and conquest of Western white supremacy.
At this juncture in the existential fight against climate change, and as reproductive rights and justice advocates demand more of a new presidential administration that carries the ‘pro-choice’ label, we cannot ignore the story of ecofascism and racism. , the population control tactics and narratives used by many white reproductive rights advocates. Ecofascism has often successfully co-opted reproductive rights – but it cannot co-opt reproductive justice, an inherently anti-capitalist and anti-colonialist framework.
Kylie Cheung is an author and writer on reproductive justice, survivor justice, and health care disparities in communities of color. You can follow his work on Twitter @ kyliecheung15 and kyliecheung.journoportfolio.com.
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