Eliminating DisparitiesTara SweeneyJuly 22, 2015
Disproportionately impacted by restrictions on reproductive health care and abortion, people in communities of color, low-income people, young people, immigrants, rural people, and LGBTQ people face higher rates of unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. Inadequate or nonexistent sex education creates gaps in knowledge that reverberate across generations. The National Institute works with advocates addressing the needs of marginalized communities subjected to harmful policies targeted specifically at them. To find out more about our particular work on eliminating disparities in states and localities, see our interactive partner map.
The National Institute has partnered with local and state advocates to highlight the reproductive needs of incarcerated women; provide sexual health education and services inside and outside the prison walls; and deepen relationships with policymakers and prison officials to adopt and implement better policies. In several states, we have helped advocates pass laws that prohibit the shackling of incarcerated women who are pregnant.
We are currently working with Prisoners’ Legal Services and the Prison Birth Project and the ACLU of Southern California to implement laws in Massachusetts and California that prohibit the shackling of pregnant incarcerated women.
We previously partnered with Legal Services for Prisoners with Children in San Francisco to build toward California’s statewide anti-shackling ban, and with Aid to Inmate Mothers , which provides health care and services to incarcerated women in Alabama. In Pittsburgh, partner New Voices Pittsburgh built and trained a broad coalition of organizations and policymakers dedicated to improving conditions for pregnant women in the Allegheny County Jail.
Nail salon workers—who are likely to be low-income women of color, immigrant women, and women of reproductive age—regularly handle toxins that have been linked to risks to maternal, infant, and fetal health. The multiple threats they face underscore the intersection of reproductive and environmental justice.
Efforts to improve health and safety measures in nail salons are often possible on the local level. The National Institute has supported advocacy by groups such as Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice and the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative to reform standards and practices in San Francisco nail salons; our sister organization NARAL Pro-Choice New York has supported efforts in New York City to regulate nail salons in order to protect workers’ reproductive health.
In the United States, African-American women and their babies face significantly higher rates of serious health complications, including maternal and infant death, low birth-weight, and preterm birth, than other communities. The National Institute’s partners have worked to address maternal and infant health among African-American mothers and babies through local implementation of culturally specific, evidence-based policies.
In Georgia, we supported the Feminist Women’s Health Center to introduce a statewide resolution in support of Georgia’s Thriving Families, advocating for access to the full range of reproductive health services, including pre- and postnatal care.
We partnered with the Urban League of Portland to conduct advocacy highlighting research, model programs, and policy recommendations to improve maternal and infant health outcomes in Portland’s African-American community. This work furthered relationships with local elected officials and policymakers and established the Urban League as a leader in the state discourse on reproductive justice.