Written by Frances Kunreuther
Last week, the Supreme Court struck down abortion clinic restrictions in Texas. The Court’s ruling has given organizers, activists, movement builders, and supporters the opportunity to pause and celebrate. After so many battles at the national level and across so many states, it is a relief to have some positive news. We know the toll it takes when a movement is constantly on the defensive. Even when there are wins, as we documented in our report The Respect ABQ Women Campaign, it takes work, energy, resources, and time to fight reactionary bills, ballot initiatives, and laws. The hardest part of playing defense is not having the space or place to think creatively about the future.
That is why we were excited when CoreAlign asked us to write a piece on their first four years. CoreAlign’s mission is to build, “a network of leaders working innovatively to change policies, culture and conditions that support all people’s sexual and reproductive decisions.” Focusing on a new generation of leaders, activists, and innovators in reproductive health, rights, and justice, CoreAlign’s model is to equip this leadership with new thinking and tools from the world of design thinking. The report, CoreAlign at Year 4 presents the findings from a dozen interviews with participants of CoreAlign’s fellowship programs. Through these fellowships, cohorts learned about the importance of acting and learning in ways that emphasize the importance of risk-taking, relationships, and reflection. And in many ways, the programs supported a reframing of how to think about the future of reproductive health, rights and justice. While bringing in and supporting emerging leadership, CoreAlign is strengthening the connections between the work of long-termers in the field and newer thinking.
The CoreAlign model is moving forward a frank and expansive discussion of “love, sex, family, and community.” It joins the growing number of organizations and individuals – often younger folks and women of color – who are thinking about the future. For instance, SisterSong is a reproductive justice network of women of color led organizations that are building “an effective network of individuals and organizations to improve institutional policies and systems that impact the reproductive lives of marginalized communities.” There’s also the Latina Institute for Reproductive Health that “builds Latina power to guarantee the fundamental human right to reproductive health, dignity and justice.” Then, there’s URGE – Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equality – which engages “young people in creating and leading the way to sexual and reproductive justice.” And there’s also All Above All, a network that “unites organizations and individuals to build support for lifting the bans that deny abortion coverage.”
There are many battles ahead in the struggle to guarantee women – and all people – have reproductive freedom, but new groups and ways of thinking make the future look much brighter.