Portland State seeking prof with commitment to abortion rights
- Portland State University is seeking to hire a Women's Studies professor with a history of "feminist activism" on issues like "reproductive justice."
- Although advocates of "reproductive justice" make clear that expanding access to abortion is their primary concern, Portland State insists that the new hire would not be required to support abortion rights.
Portland State University is hiring a professor to teach classes on “reproductive justice” and “social justice activism,” yet bizarrely denies that the new hire would be required to support abortion rights.
Unlike more widespread social movements such as feminism or environmentalism, reproductive justice is a specific ideology birthed from foundational texts and a foundational person, Loretta Ross, who is now a professor at Hampshire College.
According to SisterSong—the nonprofit that Ross co-founded in 1997—reproductive justice refers to women's right to “personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.”
While access to birth control and sex education are among the many concerns of Sistersong, the group notes that “access [to abortion], not choice” is its key concern.
“Mainstream movements have focused on keeping abortion legal as an individual choice. That is necessary, but not enough,” asserts SisterSong’s website, which goes on to call for the opening of more abortion clinics in order to make it easier for women to procure abortions.
Last week, the PSU Women’s Studies department published a job listing seeking to hire a professor who is also a “practitioner of feminist activism…with particular attention to women of color feminisms, reproductive justice, and community-engaged learning.”
“The department especially values candidates whose teaching, community engagement, and scholarship theorize from lived experience, and whose pedagogy is rooted in intersectional feminist praxis,” the department adds.
Strangely, despite requiring that the new professor be a reproductive justice activist, the department denied that the new hire would be required to support abortion rights.
“The job posting does not indicate that applicants must have viewpoints of any kind,” Department Chair Dr. Winston Grady-Willis told Campus Reform.
“There is no mention of abortion in the posting. That's why it says reproductive justice, not abortion rights,” added university spokesman Christopher Broderick, though he did not respond to a follow-up inquiry asking how someone could be a reproductive justice activist without supporting abortion.
The school also would not say if it would consider hiring a pro-life feminist to fill the position.
“Even if the school claims that reproductive justice doesn't directly refer to support for abortion, we know that reproductive justice is the same phrase used by groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL,” he pointed out. “We know that phrases like ‘abortion’ are not as popular, so pro-choice groups often call their work reproductive justice or say it is about reproductive health to mask the true aim.”
“The job posting by the university would seem to conflict with academic freedom claims as well, as it does seem like the professor would have to profess support for abortion in order to keep her job,” Lamb added. “One has to wonder if the school would fire the instructor if she had a change of heart and became pro-life, while still supporting the general aims of equal pay, ending sexual harassment, and other broadly accepted goals that are unconnected to abortion."
Once hired, the professor will start in Fall 2019. Classes she will likely teach include “Women of Color Feminist Theories,” “Women, Activism, and Social Change,” and “Global Reproductive Justice.”
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