The Disconnect Between the Reproductive Justice and LGBTQ Movements


During OUTober, I am often reminded of the chasm that exists between the LGBTQ spaces and pro-choice spaces on campus. If I had a nickel for every time someone — specifically white, cis, gay men — questioned my participation in H*yas for Choice because I’m a gay woman, I’d have 10 cents and zero f*cking patience left. It is extremely unfortunate for me to see a blatant disconnect between the LGBTQ movement and the reproductive justice movement, both on this campus and in the greater public discourse in this country. I attribute this distance to a misunderstanding of what reproductive justice means and the way it affects Georgetown and society as a whole.

For me, reproductive justice is affirming everyone’s right to choose when, how, and if they want to exercise their ability to reproduce.

When: This includes protecting access to contraceptives for men, women, and those who do not conform to the gender binary so that they can be in control of their reproductive destinies. Male condoms, female condoms, IUDs, the pill, hormonal implants — you name it, they all need to be available to students regardless of their socioeconomic background or the religious affiliation of the school they attend. Access to contraception and other methods of protection (e.g. dental dams) that prevent the spread of HIV and other STIs is immensely important for both the LGBTQ community as well as proponents of reproductive justice.


How: This is where I believe we need to expand our understanding of reproductive justice. How people choose to reproduce (if they choose to reproduce in the first place, which we’ll cover later) should be dependent on their own decisions and that of their partner, if they have one. Fighting for reproductive justice means denouncing the coercive sterilization of women in prison, just as much as it means fighting for the right of any couple, or individual, to use in vitro fertilization to conceive a child. When we prevent certain members of society from reproducing based on racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, sexism, biphobia, and other kinds of prejudice, we rob them of their reproductive rights. Both the LGBTQ movement and the reproductive justice movement ought to work together to uphold the right of individuals to reproduce however they choose.

Another aspect of the “how” of reproductive justice is consent. An individual’s sexual agency must not be violated, regardless of whether their perpetrator is their partner. I am glad to see that there have been increased discussions on campus regarding intimate partner violence in the LGBTQ community and hope to see this expanded further in the future. These conversations are especially critical considering that bisexual women endure the highest levels of sexual violence, the stigma surrounding sexual violence, and the demasculinization that male survivors may endure. Rape and sexual violence, especially when committed against people who are able to get pregnant, violate a survivor’s reproductive rights since the victim cannot decide to participate in an act that might lead to conception.


If: Not all women want to have children! Not everyone who is married wants to have children! Not everyone in a relationship wants to get married! Not everyone wants to be in a romantic relationship! Not everyone wants to have sex! Both movements respect the right of the individual to live out their identity free from pressure to conform to societal expectations of masculinity, femininity, relationships, and parenthood — so, why not engage in more conversations about this intersection on campus!?

Unfortunately, there are shortcomings that both the LGBTQ and repro movements share, but they can be conquered together. Racism, notably in the form of historical erasure that obscures the impact people of color have had on both movements, has led to the persistent marginalization of people of color. We need to celebrate the contributions that people of color have made to both movements and ensure we are being inclusive, especially with our language. The creation of the Queer Men of Color discussion group as well as the GU Queer People of Color organization are important advancements, but more needs to be done by existing LGBTQ and pro-choice spaces on campus. Additionally, as the LGB(T!)Q movement is evolving to address the particular issues trans people face, so must the repro justice movement, including dialogue addressing abortion access and “women’s” health care; once again, language is vital to create safe, inclusive spaces.

The LGBTQ and reproductive justice movements are certainly not mutually exclusive. This is made clear by the many students active in H*yas for Choice who are also part of the LGBTQ community — students like me. If the movements did not have overlapping initiatives, they would be horribly inept at creating a progressive environment where students can feel comfortable acting in ways that are consistent with their identities. More can be done to ensure both movements work in solidarity with each other, and I urge leaders on campus to help facilitate this change.

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Annie Mason (COL’ 18) is the Historian of H*yas for Choice.


Being Pro-Choice at Georgetown


Many of our peers — some accusatory, some simply curious — have asked us, “Why would you, somebody who claims to be pro-choice, come to Georgetown? Don’t you know that this is a Catholic institution?” A few of our members have chosen to address this so-called “quandary,” and their voices serve as our humble response.

Yijin Yang (COL ’17)

As a pro-choice individual, I chose to come to Georgetown for a number of reasons — the academic and extracurricular opportunities, the Jesuit ideals, the location, and the community’s commitment to reflective and relevant dialogue. I did not choose Georgetown because it was perfect. I came to this school knowing that there would be policies with which I would not agree, people with whom I would not share the same views, and things I would like to change. This is the case with any place that values positive change and healthy debate, and Georgetown is no different. We are all working to make Georgetown the best place it can be, and change and discourse are natural for any community that shares this goal.

Abby Grace (SFS ’16)

My decision to come to Georgetown was largely motivated by the Jesuits’ remarkable tradition of academic inquiry. Georgetown’s focus on the whole person, and its subsequent emphasis on professors that not only produce great research, but also are invested in their students’ individual growth, drew me to this campus. Boiling down the Jesuit tradition to a blind acceptance of the Catholic Church’s stances on reproductive health is simplistic. I’m thankful that I have had the opportunity to be a part of this tradition, and I know that my educational experience has been enriched by Georgetown’s Jesuit identity.

Sarah Rabon (COL ’16)

My personal religious beliefs inform my pro-choice advocacy. As a prospective Hoya, I was always told that my religious convictions would be tolerated and respected at Georgetown.

Lily Westergaard (COL ’15)

I came to Georgetown because, to me, it is evident that cura personalis is in line with my pro-choice views. In a perfect world, “care for the whole person” would extend to sexual health, reproductive justice, and bodily autonomy. Our Jesuit identity should serve to bolster these principles, not as a reason to repress an important part of the human experience. Reproductive rights are human rights.

Paige Bradley (COL ’17)

Although I knew Georgetown was Jesuit, that facet of the school’s identity did not factor into my decision to come here. I did not believe it fair to have the religious affiliation of the student body play a significant role in my college choice. Thus, I had to come to terms with the fact that Georgetown is a Catholic institution and that I would have to respect the choices and beliefs of many peers with whom I would not see eye-to-eye. That being said, I think groups like H*yas for Choice serve an especially important purpose here. Not every Georgetown student — or even a majority (I believe) — is Catholic, and even students who are Catholic need adequate access to sexual-health resources. If the school cannot provide this — an unfortunate reality, but an understandable one, considering Georgetown’s strong religious affiliation — then it is the job of the students to fill that important void. The health, safety, and happiness of our peers depend on it.

Gabi Emma Hasson (COL ’17)

I chose to attend Georgetown because of — not in spite of — its Jesuit values. Georgetown was not originally my top choice, and I was pretty ready to submit my deposit to the University of Pennsylvania two years ago — until I actually visited Georgetown during a GAAP Weekend. I was completely inspired by Georgetown’s core, Jesuit values, and I remain wholly unconvinced that Catholic doctrine and pro-choice feminism are fundamentally incompatible. Specifically, Georgetown’s ethics of cura personalis and being “men and women for others” support the logic of reproductive justice. Seeing H*yas for Choice members commit themselves to upholding the sexual health of their community and to clinic escorting on a weekly basis further vindicates me — that is truly caring for the whole person; that is truly dedicating yourself to the good of others.

Emily Stephens (SFS ’17)

Silly me for thinking I could choose a school based on the merits of its international relations program rather than based on its antiquated policies on contraception and birth control! I chose to go to Georgetown for the same reason I’m choosing to study abroad in China next year, even though its government routinely and systematically censors the Internet and news: because the benefits outweigh the injustice of free-speech repression. That doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to criticize the Great Firewall, and it doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to put condoms on my door and table in Red Square.

Matt Healey (SFS ’18)

Reproductive-rights issues are among several topics that I knew I disagreed with Georgetown’s administration on when I chose to attend the university. However, I believe that the many benefits of a Georgetown education are worth pursuing. Ultimately, I know that my own opinions will be respected and listened to here — as long as I speak up. I hope that my voice can help move Georgetown forward over time.

Pro-Life Advocates Didn’t Want Me to be Born


I was conceived in a loving union. My parents were thrilled to find out they were going to have a child. My mother delivered me in Georgetown University’s Women’s Hospital just over twenty years ago. Four years later, my brother joined our family in the same manner. But to the leadership of the Catholic Church, our lives were never supposed to happen.

My two mothers decided to have children by artificial insemination, a practice prohibited by Catholic doctrine. Although many have lauded Pope Francis for supposedly adopting a more tolerant stance on homosexuality and gay adoption, the keynote speaker of the Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life, Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, says that the pontiff should not be understood as changing doctrine: “The church cannot change its views to suit the times,” but must rather work harder to persuade an increasingly unconvinced public that its social teachings are holy and true.

Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley is the keynote speaker of Georgetown's 2015 Cardinal O'Connor Conference on Life

Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley is the keynote speaker of Georgetown’s 2015 Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life

Not only does Cardinal O’Malley not want LGBT folks to conceive children, but he would also rather end all adoptive services than allow gay couples to adopt and care for children. I can say from personal experience that there has not been a single detriment to my life due to the fact that I was raised by lesbians.

I can say that there have been moments where the social stigma around my family’s arrangement has caused disapproval from peers and onlookers — I think my 6th-grade boyfriend (Catholic) dumped me because he found out. But my mothers cannot be held accountable for the weight of society, nor can any other individual.

Mona Charen, another conference speaker, thinks that gays and lesbians shouldn’t be allowed to raise children because male and female parents bring complementary and necessary skills to the table. Children raised by two members of the same sex are deprived. I appreciate the concern, really, but there is no evidence to support her claims. My moms offered my brother and I untold wisdom, and I respect them more for the fact that they faced judgment and adversity about their lifestyle. If anything, my life has been enriched by being raised by people who are more tolerant of others than your average parents.

So, here’s the thing that I can’t resolve about pro-life dogma: Why, on the one hand, are women who get pregnant without planning on it required to give birth, while women who want to get pregnant — despite the odds being stacked against them — are discouraged from doing so? Is it truly pro-life to tell committed and loving unions not to use the means available to them to create a new life?

I cannot reconcile pro-life ideals with bans on gay adoption, IVF, or artificial insemination: all devices with which men and women who have a desperate calling to raise and love children can make their dreams come true. I cannot support a conference hosted by a group of people who believe that my very birth was a sin while at the same time proclaiming to value the sanctity of life. I cannot respect a doctrine that spews hatred toward the first women on the planet who ever loved me.

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Marilyn Arwood (COL ’17) is a member of H*yas for Choice. 

Hey Georgetown, Your Conference is Racist!


Damon Clarke Owens, a breakout speaker who is leading the Theology of the Body: Building a Culture of Awe and Wonder discussion at this Saturday’s Cardinal O’Conner Conference on Life, is the current Executive Director of the Theology of the Body Institute and has also served as National Spokesman for L.E.A.R.N. (Life, Education, and Resource Network) — the largest African-American, evangelical, pro-life ministry in the United States.

Rev. Clenard H. Childress, Jr., the National Director of LEARN, stated that it’s purpose is to “enlighten — through activism and literature — the African-American churches and other community groups to the horrors of abortion and how it is decimating the African-American community.” Their site offensively equates abortion to both the Holocaust and slavery in the US.

The “Black Genocide” movement conspiracy theory advocates the belief that African-American populations are targets for population control at the hands of abortion providers who strategically place clinics in low-income neighborhoods, leading to higher rates of abortion among African-American women compared to white women.

This “planned genocide” of African-American babies was popularized by the former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, who stated that “[w]hen Margaret Sanger … started Planned Parenthood, the objective was to put these centers in primarily black communities so they could help kill black babies before they came into the world.” Other groups, like Georgia Right to Life and the Texas-based, anti-abortion group Life Always, use terminology like “Planned Parenthood’s Negro Project” and billboards like the one depicted below to selectively co-opt civil-rights rhetoric in order to make abortion seem like a racist, eugenic plot designed to decimate the African-American population. Instead of giving thought to the historical, societal, and cultural influences that affect the heightened rates of abortion among women of color, these groups veil their movement behind racist claims and incorrect facts.


Cain’s claim that abortion clinics are disproportionately located in lower-income or predominantly African-American communities is flat-out wrong. The Guttmacher Institute found that, actually, only 1 in 10 clinics are located in these neighborhoods. Although the claim that abortion rates are higher among women of color is true (the same study found that African-American women account for 37% of all abortions in the US, despite only making up 13% of the population), when underlying racial and ethnic factors are taken into account, the claim of an orchestrated genocide falls apart completely.

It isn’t only Black women who are having more abortions than white women — the rate of abortion among Hispanic women is double the rate among Whites, and Hispanic women are more than twice as likely as White women to experience an unintended pregnancy (the rate is three times for Black women). Is the reproductive-rights movement also trying to get rid of Hispanic babies? Probably not.

Logically, the women who tend to experience the most unintended pregnancies are also the same women who tend to get abortions. What the statistics show isn’t a White conspiracy designed to kill Black babies, but instead that women of color are getting pregnant unintentionally disproportionally more often than White women. Instead of trying to determine what racist plot is causing these women to get abortions, anti-choice policymakers should actually question what they are doing that is causing such a high rate of unintended pregnancies — and what can be done to prevent them in the future.

The Guttmacher report also found that many women of color face significant difficulties when it comes to health-care access. Many are unable to afford highly effective birth control methods that require a steep upfront cost, like the IUD. Those who do obtain contraceptive services generally get them at family planning centers, which are funded by Medicaid — a common target for Republicans. In addition, it found that “life events such as relationship changes, moving or personal crises can have a direct impact on method continuation.” When these disruptive life events occur more frequently among a certain population, the population experiences a higher rate of unintended pregnancy.

By continuing to reduce access to contraceptive services and by making it harder for the most at-risk populations to obtain the reproductive healthcare they need to stay healthy (and not pregnant), anti-choice policymakers are actively contributing to increased rates of abortion.

The anti-choice movement needs to stop painting abortion providers as racist eugenicists; it needs to stop co-opting populations’ historical struggles in in an attempt to fulfill its own agenda. Doing so is racist and offensive — Georgetown, with all its Jesuit values, should actively oppose these actions.

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Sophia Kleyman (COL ’16) is Events Coordinator of H*yas for Choice. 

Reproductive Justice: Way More than Your Everyday Abortion Rights


When I talk to many of my friends about my involvement in H*yas for Choice, most of the time, the conversation is relegated to discussion of abortion itself. Second to that (and maybe only because of my American flag made of condoms) contraception is the focus of the discussion.


Abby (HFC President) and Vincent (HFC Vice President) in front of the most beautiful piece of modern art ever created.

However, viewing reproductive justice through this narrow lens is a disservice to what the reproductive-justice movement is truly about: every individual having his or her own reproductive agency. Reproductive agency extends beyond the decision to terminate a pregnancy — it also encompasses the decision to become pregnant, to raise children, and to have the power to change the environment in which one’s children are raised.

Fortunately for many, modern medicine has made it far more possible for couples who were previously unable to have children to conceive. I am proud to be a result of these modern technologies, and I will always be thankful to my parents and the countless medical professionals that made my life possible.

But unfortunately, the anti-choice community can’t find it in their hearts to leave even one plank of the large Reproductive-Justice platform unscathed. This year’s Cardinal O’Connor Conference has found Jennifer Lahl, a speaker who is willing to oppose this seemingly all-around good cause.


Center for Bioethics and Culture President Jennifer Lahl

Lahl’s larger criticism of assistive reproductive technologies is cloaked in concern for disadvantaged populations who might be coerced into acting as surrogates or donating eggs or sperm. However, dive deeper into her writing and it is evident that her examples are homophobic (a surrogate mother refusing to give up the baby to a gay couple), overly occupied with potential failure rates, and predicated on the existence of an inherent, undeniable biological connection between parent and offspring — regardless of whether or not the parents and offspring have ever met.

Writing, “Assistive reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization not only involve serious medical risks, they also disrupt family life and commodify human beings,” Lahl misses the forest for the trees. If anything, technologies such as IVF empower individuals to have the family life that they determine is best for them. Just because an individual’s family life fails to perfectly align with Lahl’s conception, it is not any less of a family.

Perhaps what is most personally insulting to me is Lahl’s repeated assertion that children conceived through assistive reproductive technology are likely to feel loss because they are not directly connected with their biological parents.

From personal experience, I can tell Lahl that she would be far better served by asking people who were conceived thanks to assistive reproductive technologies about their opinions on the matter. Rather than lending credence to bizarre, fear-mongering, futuristic claims that within 50 years all children will be engineered in a lab, Lahl should refrain from “other-ing” individuals conceived in that fashion.

Lahl hides behind trendy hashtags like #eggsploitation and #breeders, but at the end of the day, her argument rests on the preservation of traditional familial structures that only inhibit the reproductive agency of women. Instead of opposing assistive reproductive technology all together, Lahl and her supporters would be better served by targeting systemic inequity.

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Abby Grace (SFS’16) is the President of H*yas for Choice and an IVF baby. 

Pro-Choice Profile of the Week: Vincent DeLaurentis



Vincent DeLaurentis

SFS ’17

Fun Fact: The only time I’ve cried in the last year was at the On the Run Tour, when Beyoncé walked out.

Do you identify as pro-choice? If so, why?

Of course I identify as pro-choice! I believe that all people should respect a woman’s right to body sovereignty. Additionally, I believe that strong support for reproductive justice is essential to wider liberation movements. Queer justice, racial justice, economic justice are all contingent upon supporting and defending reproductive justice.

What does feminism mean to you?

As a trans-affirmative radical feminist, feminism takes on several meanings for me. First, I believe that patriarchy, or the systematic, violent domination of women by men, is a real phenomenon that must be dismantled. Second, I believe that all women should be included and embraced by feminism, including trans women. Third, I believe that feminism must be intersectional, meaning that it must confront issues of racial, heterosexual, cisgender, class, and ableist privilege. Finally, as a male feminist, I believe that I have a duty to deliberately avoid some feminist spaces and to attempt to convert non-feminist spaces into feminist spaces.

Who in the media inspires you?

I don’t know if she counts as a media figure, but my current, favorite feminist is Angela Davis (her FBI mugshot is my desktop background).  I love Angela’s radical approach to economic justice and her ability to explain the intersections of race, class, and gender.

If you could be any form of contraception, what would you be?

I would totally be an IUD because I’m a little pricey, but super dependable.

Pro-Choice Profile of the Week: Yijin Yang



Yijin Yang

NHS ’17

Fun Fact: Oprah was my favorite show in 5th grade.

Do you identify as pro-choice? If so, why?

Yes, I do identify as pro-choice because I believe that I should be the one making the decisions about what happens to my body. Ownership over your own reproductive health is a right that every woman deserves. I do not believe that governments or other individuals should have a say in the choices I make regarding my body and health.

What does feminism mean to you?

Feminism means equality. For me, it doesn’t mean that women are better than men; it simply means that women and men are equal.

Who in the media inspires you?

Recently, Emma Watson gave a magnificent speech at the UN conference, so she is definitely an inspiration for me. And, she really takes the role of being a public figure seriously.*

If you could be any form of contraception, what would you be?

I would be an IUD because I’m reliable and loyal (for up to twelve years).