Here's How We Can Bring People Together on the Abortion Debate

February 28th 2015

Ashley Nicole Black

Did you see this great hashtag in your feed this week? The tweets tagged with #TakeRoot15 were funny, insightful, profound, and loving. Not words you usually use to talk about an internet conversation about abortion. That is because the students, activists, and academics who participate in #TakeRoot15 have a goal to create a conversation about reproductive justice that is inclusive and non-partisan. Who knew that could even be done?

Founded by a group of students from Oklahoma State University and The University of Oklahoma, Take Root 2015 is a conference put together by Take Root: Red State Perspectives on Reproductive Justice. Here is their mission statement:

"Take Root: Red State Perspectives on Reproductive Justice conference provides a space for engagement on reproductive justice for students, academics, practitioners, advocates, and members of our community. Our region’s unique cultures and concerns shape our focus on and approach toward achieving reproductive justice. This conference offers an opportunity to explore that perspective and engage with new possibilities. Take Root also works toward highlighting the relevance of the red state regional perspective in national reproductive justice discourse to bridge existing gaps."

By focusing on "red states" and regional culture, Take Root has managed to create a space to talk divisive issues without the typical divisiveness. By expanding the conversation from just abortion to reproductive justice, they are able to create a space where advocates from several different fields can work together, rather than treating justice as a zero sum game. They explain their focus on reproductive justice as "the right to have children, not to have children, and to parent the children we have in safe and healthy environments." This allows participants to "see the connections between poverty and food access in rural and urban environments, histories of coercive sterilization of women of color, the disparity in impacts of criminalization of drugs and its effects on families, gender self-determination and gender violence, and access to contraception, transition services, sexual health and consent information." They even had sessions on climate change!

Their focus on reproductive justice allows for an understanding that, advocacy for justice for anyone benefits everyone. 

You can check out their website here: http://take-root.org/

Like their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/takerootconference

And catch up with the hashtag #TakeRoot15 on twitter here: https://twitter.com/hashtag/takeroot15?src=hash