Colleges offer certificate focused on abortion rights

Five Massachusetts colleges offer students the ability to earn a certificate in “reproductive justice,” the progressive euphemism for abortion rights. 

The program is offered throughout the Five College Consortium, which includes Smith College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

The “Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice Certificate” can be earned by any student who completes 6 classes in reproductive justice issues, such as “Feminist Health Politics,” “The Ethics of Having Children,” and “Women’s Medical Issues.”

[RELATED: Prof to discuss ‘reproductive justice in the age of Trump’ at USM]

Though the certificate description notes that abortion access is one of many reproductive health issues, recent graduate Sarah Flores Shannon told Campus Reform that abortion access is the most prominent underlying theme of the program.

Shannon graduated last spring from Smith College with a degree in Anthropology, and was the very first student to earn the reproductive justice certificate. In the program, Shannon said she learned that justice refers to “the right to have a child, the right to not have a child, and the right to parent your child in a safe and healthy environment.”

Since reproductive justice as a political framework is founded on “self-determination,” Shannon also asserted that it is incompatible with the pro-life movement, adding that the political climate among her peers was universally pro-abortion.

“Reproductive justice is founded in self-determination and autonomy, and you can’t agree with reproductive justice and say that people can’t decide for themselves if/when/how they want to start a family,” she explained.

Pro-life students probably wouldn’t feel welcome in the certificate program, she added, because “advocating against abortion cannot be reproductive justice. Like, it doesn’t fit in to the definition at all.”

[RELATED: University to host panel on ‘reproductive justice’ activism]

While the curriculum claims to focus first on reproductive health, it appears that health itself takes a backseat to politics, with Shannon noting that she “didn’t take any medical related courses” during her time in the program, though she recalled that a professor did once discuss the “cultural preferences for breast-milk versus formula” in a class. 

The certificate boasts of faculty from all five member colleges, including Loretta Ross, a scholar-activist widely credited with spearheading the current reproductive justice movement. As Campus Reform has reported, Ross is also teaching a class on “white privilege,” and recently delivered a lecture on the link between libertarianism and “traditional bigotry.”

According to the certificate description, graduates are poised to learn about “legal barriers to abortion and birth control” and ultimately “become effective practitioners, researchers, policy makers, and advocates.” 

That focus seems to have worked for Shannon, who recently finished up an internship with the United Nations Foundation as a Family Planning Intern, working to expand reproductive justice in developing nations.

UMass-Amherst professor Jennifer Nye and Carrie Baker, who teaches at Smith College, co-chair the certificate program. Neither responded to a request from Campus Reform for more information on the curriculum. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen