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This month, the “Take Charge of Your Health Today” page focuses on reproductive justice. Vianca Masucci, health advocate, Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, and Esther L. Bush, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, exchanged ideas on this topic.

VM: Hello, Ms. Bush. I’m excited about this month’s topic on reproductive justice. I feel that this is the type of topic that this page has been designed to explore. When folks think about the term “reproductive rights,” they usually think only about abortion. But abortion is just one issue within reproductive rights. Reproductive rights include getting basic sex education, making your own decisions about family planning, having access to meaningful health care and being able to parent your children in a safe environment. They also tie into issues like intimate partner violence and how abuse can get in the way of how you control your own reproductive destiny. True reproductive justice is having the right, the autonomy and the resources to make healthy decisions throughout the entire family planning process. Unfortunately, not everyone has the freedom to make these decisions about this part of their health.

EB: Yes, I’m happy that we are covering this issue because it’s a very deep topic. You say “freedom,” and I’d like to pause on that for a second. By law, we all have the freedom to make decisions about our own bodies. By law, people have the right to choose if, when and with whom they want or don’t want to have children. However, sometimes this “freedom” is limited by what you have access to, what you can afford and/or what expectations your community has of you. But, Vianca, I would be remiss to mention the rights and the freedom without also talking about responsibility. Bringing another person into the world is probably the most important responsibility a human being can undertake. Such an important decision must be approached thoughtfully and realistically.

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