Reproductive Justice Glossary

Abortion – The end of a pregnancy before birth; can be “spontaneous”, also known as a miscarriage, or induced, the intentional termination of a pregnancy.

Abstinence-only sexuality education – Abstinence-only-until-marriage sexuality education programs teach only the benefits of abstaining from all sexual activity; these programs do not provide medically-accurate or developmentally beneficial information about sexuality, relationships, contraception, HIV and other STIs, etc.

Anti-choice – A political position that opposes a woman’s right to choose to continue or terminate a pregnancy and to obtain safe and legal abortion services. People who take an anti-choice stance refer to themselves as “pro-life.”

Birth Control Mandate – The Health and Human Services mandate requiring that all health plans provide coverage at no cost (including deductibles and co-payments) for all contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration as part of preventive health services for women.

Choice – A woman’s right to choose to continue or terminate a pregnancy.

Cisgender – A person whose gender identity is the same as their assigned sex at birth.

Contraception – A method of preventing pregnancy. There are different kinds suited to people with different needs: some are permanent, some are temporary, some are hormonal, and some are barriers methods (like condoms) which can also protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Some examples of contraception are “the pill”, condoms, diaphragms, and IUD’s.

Comprehensive Sex Education – Medically accurate, age appropriate material which teaches about abstinence as the best method for avoiding STDs and unintended pregnancy, but also teaches about condoms and contraception to reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy and of infection with STDs, including HIV. It also teaches interpersonal and communication skills and helps young people explore their own values, goals, and options, and is inclusive to LGBTQ individuals.

Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC) – “Clinics” which are run by anti-choice groups that claim to provide education and counseling services and free or fee-based pregnancy-related services such as pregnancy tests and ultra sounds. They provide misleading, incomplete, and proven-to-be-false information related to sexuality, abortion, abortion-related risks, and birth control. CPC’s rarely have any medical professionals on staff and use coercive tactics to stop a woman from exercising her right to choose.

Emergency Contraception/Morning-after Pill/Plan B – A high-dosage birth control pill that can prevent pregnancy after unprotected vaginal intercourse or if primary birth control method fails (not to be confused with RU-486 or medical abortion).

Gender – Refers to socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities and characteristics that our society deems appropriate for men and women.

Gender Non-Conforming – A term for individuals whose gender expression challenges society’s expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Gender non-conforming individuals may or may not alter their bodies through the use of hormones or surgery. Gender non-conforming people may or may not identify as trans, male or female.

Guttmacher Institute – An organization focused on sexual and reproductive health research, policy analysis and public education

HIV/AIDS – Human Immunodeficiency Virus can be spread through sexual contact that attacks the immune system and causes a condition called AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). There is no cure for HIV or AIDS, but certain medications can prolong the lifetime of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Hyde Amendment – Legislation passed in 1976 that prohibits the use of federal Medicaid funding for most abortion procedures

Intersectionality – The ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another.

Judicial Bypass – An order from a judge that allows a minor to have an abortion without telling or receiving consent from her parent or legal guardian. See Parental Consent Laws.

LGBTQ – Refers to individuals who self-identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Queer. This acronym is sometimes expanded to LGBTQQPIA. The second Q is added to refer to individuals who are questioning their sexual orientation, P refers to Pansexual, I refers to intersex individuals, and A refers to both asexual individuals and straight Allies; these other identities are usually understood to be included in the acronym LGBT.

Medical abortion– A non-surgical medical procedure that terminates a pregnancy by taking medications such as RU-486. This is the most common abortion procedure. Up to 49 days of gestation, medical abortion is considered to be more effective than surgical abortion.

NARAL Pro-Choice America – A reproductive rights organization that focuses on supporting pro-choice legislators, judges and other political officeholders, promoting pro-choice legislation, and defending against anti-choice legislation.

OB/GYN – OB is short for obstetrics or for an obstetrician, a physician who delivers babies. GYN is short for gynecology or gynecologist, a physician who specializes in treating female reproductive health issues.

Parental Consent Laws – Legislation that requires minors to obtain the consent of one or both parents before accessing abortion services.

Parental notification laws – legislation that requires the notification of one or both parents before minors can access abortion services – theoretically the parents don’t have to consent to the abortion procedure, just be notified that it is happening.

Partial-birth abortion – A political term that anti-choice activists invented, not actually a medical procedure. In 2003, President Bush signed the “Partial-birth Abortion Ban” (a.k.a. Federal Abortion Ban) into law, which can be used to prosecute doctors for performing procedures that are safest for women, including some first-trimester abortions.

Pharmacy refusal – The refusal of a pharmacist or pharmacy to fill legal prescriptions for birth control and emergency contraception.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America ( PPFA) A reproductive health and rights organization; the largest reproductive health care provider in the US.

Planned Parenthood v. Casey – 1992 Supreme Court decision that allowed states to pass increased restrictions on access to abortion services.

Pro-choice – A political position that supports a woman’s right to choose to continue or terminate a pregnancy and to obtain safe and legal abortion services.

Queer – An umbrella term referring to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community; sometimes also used as a distinct sexual and/or gender identity apart from lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender that recognizes the fluidity of sexuality and gender; may also connote a political identity instead of, or in addition to, a sexual or gender identity.

 Rape Culture – A culture in which sexual violence is normalized or accepted. Survivors of sexual assault are often silenced and discouraged from seeking justice and presumed to be at fault for their assault. Legal systems that do not help survivors find justice, rape jokes, and victim blaming are all examples of rape culture.

Refusal clauses – Policies and legislation that allow certain medical professionals and organizations to refuse to provide information or services that violate their moral or religious beliefs, particularly related to abortion and emergency contraception.

Reproductive Health Advocacy – Social justice activism that focuses on reproductive health disparities and inequities by providing services to marginalized communities.

Reproducti­ve Justice­ – Social justice activism that focuses on the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, economic, and social well-being and believes that reproductive justice will be achieved when all people have the economic, social and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about our bodies, sexuality and reproduction for ourselves, our families and our communities in all areas of our lives.

Reproductive Rights Advocacy – Social justice activism that focuses on protecting women’s legal reproductive rights, particularly abortion and access to family planning services.

Right to privacy – The basis under which the Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion; it is the right to be “left alone” or free from government intrusion as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

Roe v. Wade – 1973 Supreme Court decision that established the right toabortion as guaranteed by the constitutional right to privacy.

Safe(r) Sex – Taking precautions to prevent pregnancy and STI’s. This can mean using a condom or other barrier method like a dental dam, using birth control, sharing information about your sexual history with your partner and getting tested for STI’s. No sex is completely “safe”.

Sex Positive – The philosophy that all consensual expressions of sexuality are good and healthy.

Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) – Any infection transmitted through sexual contact; public health experts have somewhat recently discarded the term, STD (sexually transmitted diseases) because the concept of “disease” usually means that there are clear signs or symptoms of infection, and many of the most common STI’s (for example, herpes and human papilloma virus, or HPV) often don’t cause symptoms. STI’s can have serious medical consequences if left untreated.

Slut Shaming – When a female identified person is shamed or attacked for being “too sexual.” This could include sexual desires, having multiple sex partners, the way she dresses, etc.

Surgical Abortion – A medical procedure that ends a pregnancy by emptying the uterus (or womb) with special instruments.

Teen Endangerment Act, (TEA)– Federal legislation that would prohibit assisting a minor to obtain an abortion by crossing state lines and avoiding parental consent/notification laws in her home state; this law was proposed by Congress, but not passed.

Title X – Legislation that provides federal funding for family planning clinics.

Trans* – In general, anyone whose identity, appearance, or behavior falls outside conventional gender norms may identify as trans. Trans (without the asterisk) is best applied to trans men and trans women, while the asterisk makes special note in an effort to include all non-cisgender gender identities, including transgender, transsexual, transvestite, genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary, genderfuck, genderless, agender, non-gendered, third gender, two-spirit, bigender, and trans man and trans woman.

Trigger Warning – Used to indicate graphic descriptions of abuse, trauma, self harm, rape, etc. that may trigger a person to have an extreme or damaging emotional response.

Victim Blaming – The idea that a survivor of assault is in some way at fault for the attack because one’s clothing, alcohol consumption, attitude, or anything else that allows others to suggest the survivor was “asking for it.”