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Reproductive Justice is Climate Justice

I spend every day at Energy Foundation trying to stop our transportation system from polluting our environment. It is easy to silo my work and think only about what comes out of a tailpipe. But like everyone working on the climate change emergency, separating my work from systemic injustice and assaults on human rights is simply not effective, and it’s not equitable or just.

The overturning of the Constitutional right to abortion in today’s Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade, opposed by the majority of Americans, sparks righteous outrage—and intersects with my work on climate change. Infringing on those seeking fundamental healthcare is directly related to the need to build an affordable, equitable, emissions-free transportation system. After all, it is no coincidence that these restrictions also impact the most vulnerable people who are faced each day with the costs and burdens of our existing polluting transportation and energy systems. 

The history of our movement shows that failing to truly embrace intersectionality and justice slows our progress and diminishes our strength. The barriers to a livable environment are rooted in the same systems of oppression that have fostered injustice throughout our nation’s history. Selectively averting our gaze at some injustice while fighting for another will never result in true change. It is all interconnected, be it denying access to abortion—an internationally recognized human right—violence and discrimination against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities, or a polluting, inefficient, and inaccessible transportation system. 

Forty-five percent of Americans have no access to public transportation. Black households are three times as likely as white households to have no access to a vehicle. Immigrant households are more likely to lack access to a vehicle compared to their U.S.-born counterparts; Native Americans also lack equitable access. And today’s Supreme Court decision means abortion-seekers in Louisiana likely will have to travel an average of 666 miles one way to receive care. This decision will simply exacerbate the injustice that people face, limiting the right to self-determination and access to crucial services, and increasing transportation pollution. 

Building a clean and equitable transportation system means ensuring that all peoples living in the U.S. have access to affordable, accessible, and emissions-free transportation to get to work or school, support our families, and receive reproductive and other healthcare. And it is my job to support that. 

Reproductive justice is climate justice. Racial justice is climate justice. Transit justice is climate justice. Approaching climate work intersectionally is a climate imperative—not a choice.