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Gurr, Barbara. “Complex Intersections: Reproductive Justice and Native Women.” Sociology Compass 5, no. 8 (2011): 721–35.


Barbara Gurr introduces the intersection of reproductive justice, environmental justice, and human rights as they pertain to Native-American women’s experiences. Gurr claims that environmental justice is especially important to Native-American women’s (reproductive) health because Native Americans have emotional ties to the land they live on, and these lands tend to be the sites of U.S. pollution activities. Gurr complicates the understanding of human rights by arguing that reproductive justice moves away from traditional rhetoric of “choice” and “rights” to highlight the ways in which marginalized communities and, more specifically, Native-American women face racial and economic inequality that restrict access to these “rights.” The author critiques Indian Health Services (IHS), which is a subsidiary healthcare system that the U.S. government funds. She cites health disparities, lack of childbirth systems, inadequate care for sexual assault survivors, and limited access to contraceptives that are a result of a “double discourse,” which is the failure of both the federal government and IHS to provide adequate healthcare to Native-American women. For Gurr, reproductive justice plays both a theoretical and activist role in highlighting the complex intersections that shape Native-American women’s reproductive health experiences. This article does a good job of explaining some of the history of Native-American women's reproductive oppression and limited access to health care that is obligated by federal services. It is recommended for anyone interested in IHS, Native-American women’s reproductive experiences, and the way different factors combine to shape the lives of Native-American women.  


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Related Topics

Race/ethnicity: Native American/Indigenous   Intersectionality   Health care   Health disparities   Environmental justice