On November 17, 2020, Reproaction co-sponsored a webinar panel discussion with the Missouri HIV Justice Coalition and the Well Project, about the struggles around parental rights and discrimination based on HIV status, drug use, and gender identity. Panelists included: Derek Siegel, PhD student at UM-Amherst; Nataley Neuman, Wisconsin-based organizer at Reproaction, and very special guests, Claire Gasamagera and Ci Ci Covin, who shared their experiences as breastfeeding parents living with HIV.
Twenty attendees learned how the state relies on punitive measures to control what should be autonomous parental decisions. Panelists discussed the unique barriers that trans women, people who are living with HIV, and those suspected of drug use face in their decisions to become parents and raise their children. Derek talked about their dissertation research on trans women’s decisions to become parents and the challenges they sometimes face with child custody and navigating institutions like schools for their children. Nataley presented her work on Act 292 in Wisconsin and how fetal personhood laws extinguish parental and individual rights. Claire and Ci Ci offered their powerful testimonies as Black mothers living with HIV. They discussed mixed messaging regarding breastfeeding, threats that could have resulted in losing their babies, and the outright lies told by physicians to keep them from reproducing.
Discussions like this demonstrate how issues usually considered separate are outcomes of the same systems of domination and oppression. The challenges and obstacles marginalized folks must navigate and overcome to become parents are illustrative of who and under what circumstances the powers that be deem parenting to be an appropriate venture. However, everyone should have the ability to decide if and when to give birth, parent in a safe environment, and engage in sexual freedom.
Usually, there would be a link to a recording of this webinar, but pandemic brain is real. We welcome audience participation and interaction during our webinars, so accept my sincerest apologies, and try to attend our webinars live.
Also, please consider donating so we can continue to offer free webinars that help inform people about reproductive justice issues and opportunities to take direct action.