Marji Gold, MD, director of the Center for Reproductive Health Education in Family Medicine, spoke to the DFMCH on September 11, 2019. Her lecture, “From Reproductive Rights to Reproductive Justice: The Impact on Clinical Care Policy and Advocacy” focused on how race and social problems like poverty prohibit patients from exercising their reproductive rights.

Marji Gold, MD

Farley Visiting Professor Marji Gold, MD, accepts plaque from DFMCH Chair Valerie Gilchrist, MD, after her thought provoking lecture on reproductive justice.

The Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, SisterSong, defines reproductive justice as the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities (learn more).

Intersectionality and Reproductive Justice

Dr. Gold encouraged attendees to ask questions and explained that she would foster group discussion throughout the presentation which started with an explanation of intersectionality, a concept and term first used by legal scholar Kimberle’ Crenshaw in 1989.  Intersectionality asserts that the overlap of various social identities, such as race, gender, sexuality, and class, contributes to the specific type of systemic oppression and discrimination experienced by an individual or group. Dr. Gold believes this approach can help providers to not overlook the challenges facing people with multiple oppressions. Reproductive justice weaves together social justice, racial justice and human rights perspectives and focuses on intersectionality.

“Reproductive rights focus on a single issue,” explained Gold, “and ignores the fact that for people of color, and people without resources, there may be no possibility of a real choice about whether to get pregnant or have a child.”

DFMCH Chair Val Gilchrist, MD, (left) and John Frey, MD, (right) welcome Marji Gold, MD, before her lecture on reproductive justice.
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History of Reproductive Coercion

Dr. Gold encouraged attendees to be vigilant in interactions with patients explaining that it is not the job of the health care provider to determine who will be a good parent. Reproductive coercion has existed for centuries, from doctors and other professionals applying eugenics and racism to make reproductive decisions for women to present day campaigns aimed at limiting food stamps to families who have more than four children.  She implored attendees to be vigilant.  “Many legislators, social scientists and medical professionals have strong beliefs about who they think will be a good mother, and who should parent,” said Gold, “these beliefs can impact the way we see and talk to our patients.”

More about Dr. Gold and the Farley Lecture

Dr. Gold’s Farley lecture built on her presentation at the DFMCH’s Statewide Grand Rounds earlier that day.

In “Exploring the Myth of Pregnancy Planning”, she spoke about the problems of the concept of pregnancy intendedness, identified counseling strategies that respect patient autonomy, and deliberated the role of discussing abortion as part of contraception counseling.

The Farley Visiting Professorship was established in 1993 to honor former DFMCH Chair Eugene Farley, MD, and his wife Linda Farley, MD, a faculty member at the Belleville Clinic.

Its purpose is to stimulate ideas and discussion through visits by candidates whose area of interest is in the humanistic aspects of medicine, medical ethics, social consciousness, philosophy of family medicine, healthcare reform, generalist education or cross-cultural concerns.

Frey Writing Award Winners

At the Farley event, the DFMCH also presented this year’s John Frey Writing Award winners (PDF). The Frey Writing Awards were established in 2010 to honor John Frey, III, MD, past chair of the DFMCH, and to recognize and encourage individual creative writing.

Prose:

  • Buried Treasure (Markus Eckstein)

Poetry:

  • Expressions of Love (Caitlin Regner, MD)
  • One Block (Melissa Stiles, MD)
  • Requiem for Sperry Chalet (Jon Temte, MD)
  • Green eyed Boy (Susan Golz)
  • When We Dance (Brenna Gibbons)
  • FMS Haiku (Bill Schwab, MD)

Published: November 2019