Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

UT professors speak on reproductive justice

Non-governmental organizations have a responsibility to promote health care and reproductive justice when government institutions fail to do so, sociology professor Sharmila Rudrappa said at a Wednesday lecture.

Three UT professors gave speeches on reproductive justice at the inaugural speaker series “Exploring Reproductive Justice,” hosted by GlobeMed Austin, an organization that promotes global health care equity.

Sharmila Rudrappa, who directs the Center for Asian-American studies, first explained what reproductive justice is. 

“Reproductive justice is possible when all people have the social, political and economic power and resources to make healthy decisions about our gender bodies, sexuality and families for ourselves and for our communities,” Rudrappa said.

While many associate this with abortion, Rudrappa said abortion is only a small part of reproductive justice.

“This is about prenatal care, health care for the mother and the child, food access, safety in the area that the child develops in,” Rudrappa said. 

While the U.S. does promote global human rights, Rudrappa said the government has also pressured countries to refrain from funding and education regarding reproductive justice. This hypocrisy pushes civil society organizations to step in, Rudrappa said.

Christine Abbyad, an associate professor of clinical nursing, discussed issues in health care for Lebanese, Iraqi and Syrian women.

“These rural women are at risk of death if they have more children,” Abbyad said. “They don’t want more children. But they don’t make that decision. Their husbands do.”

Abbyad said a health care education campaign is necessary to combat this issue. 

Sociology professor Jennifer Glass spoke about maternal mortality in undeveloped and developed countries. 

“The biggest issue (in undeveloped countries) is the lack of medical infrastructure, especially in rural areas,” Glass said. 

Glass listed several factors that lead to maternal mortality, including pre-existing conditions, age and risky medical procedures to save the infant. 

Glass said the U.S. has a relatively high maternal mortality rate compared to other developed countries. She said this could be a result of factors including lower rates of prenatal care, relatively high rates of teen and older unintended pregnancy, poverty and a lack of a single-payer health care system.

To combat global maternal mortality, Glass said we need medically trained attendants at all births, support during pregnancy, basic public health infrastructure and secondary education for all youth, especially girls.

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UT professors speak on reproductive justice