Editor's Note: Reproductive Rights are Human Rights

By Laetitia Clayton

Laetitia Clayton

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June to strike down Roe v. Wade was a devastating blow to individual freedom and has many wondering which of our constitutionally recognized rights might be next on the chopping block.

The decision — which we’re hearing from many reputable sources is not popular with the majority of Americans — will, of course, affect marginalized people the most. This has created an urgent social justice issue for social workers and others.

Our cover story examines the implications of overturning Roe, which go beyond abortion access, and could affect other privacy rights like contraception and same-sex marriage. “The heart of this issue is our right to self-determination,” says Kristi S. Wood, APSW, a social work lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and chair of NASW’s National Committee on 
Women’s Issues.

In addition, social workers and other providers in some states face potential criminal charges for “aiding and abetting” someone considering — or having — an abortion. Social workers already are responding to the court’s decision — like NASW’s chapters, which are fighting related legislation at the state level.

Rebekah Gewirtz, executive director of NASW’s Massachusetts Chapter, says hyperlocal organizing is one way to fight back. In Viewpoints, Gewirtz explains how this worked in her state in 2019 when abortion rights were at risk. She says the way different groups mobilized and worked together across diverse sectors in Massachusetts to pass abortion-access legislation can serve as a model for other states and communities.

Our second feature article looks at another widespread issue that impacts marginalized populations more than others, and therefore has created a challenge for social work: Inflation.

The article includes the angles of advocating for communities, pushing for legislation like the Child Tax Credit, educating clients and others about what help is available, and providing and guiding people to helpful resources. June was a busy month for NASW. In addition to our national conference, NASW leaders participated in the Poor People’s Campaign rally and march in Washington, D.C.

You can read more about that and other association efforts in the Association News section. If this issue of the magazine has an overall theme, it’s that social workers and others must continue to fight for human rights. We cannot go backward.

Until next time,

cover of August / September 2022 issue

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