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Reproductive Health, Rights, and 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.
  • Abortion Access Project - national organization of activists and healthcare providers dedicated to increasing access to abortion services, increasing the number of abortion providers, improving education of public health professionals and educating the public about abortion as a part of reproductive healthcare;
  • Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (a.k.a. ANDA, The Weldon Amendment) - law that would allow healthcare institutions, providers and insurance companies to opt out of providing services (such as abortion or emergency contraception) or information (such as abortion referrals) required by state law. This law has been proposed by Congress, but not passed.
  • Abstinence-only sexuality education - abstinence-only-until-marriage sexuality education programs teach only the benefits of refraining from all sexual activity; these programs do not provide medically-accurate information about sexuality, relationships, contraception, HIV and other STDs, etc.
  • ACLU (a.k.a. American Civil Liberties Union) - organization dedicated to protecting civil liberties and constitutional rights;

  • ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project - an initiative of the ACLU that works to protect reproductive freedom through litigation, advocacy and public education;

  • Advocates for Youth - national organization that advocates for the reproductive and sexual rights of young people;

  • African American Women Evolving (a.k.a. AAWE) - grassroots organization dedicated to increasing the leadership of African-American women on reproductive health issues;

  • Anti-choice (a.k.a. "pro-life") - political position that opposes a woman's right to choose to continue or terminate a pregnancy and to obtain safe and legal abortion services.

  • API/APA - refers to members of the Asian Pacific Islander or Asian Pacific American community.

  • Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice (a.k.a. ACRJ) - national reproductive justice organization dedicated to building reproductive justice for Asian communities, as well as other communities and organizations that are working for reproductive justice; proponent of reproductive justice framework;
  • Assisted Reproductive Genetic Technologies (a.k.a. ARGT) - general term referring to various processes that people use to help get pregnant, including, but not limited to egg donation, sperm donation, in vitro fertilization, surrogacy and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis.

  • Barr Pharmaceuticals - American manufacturer of Plan B, the only emergency contraception available over-the-counter to women 18 and older.
  • California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (a.k.a. CLRJ) - state-based reproductive justice organization dedicated to Latino women and girls;

  • Catholics for a Free Choice - reproductive rights organization that tackles issues from Catholic perspective;

  • Causes in Common - coalition of LGBTQ and reproductive health, rights and justice organizations working to connect the reproductive justice and LGBT liberation movements and to promote the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all of communities; Causes in Common is a project of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York City;

  • Center for American Progress - progressive think thank that supports reproductive health and rights as part of its agenda;

  • Center for Genetics and Society - national organization that encourages responsible uses and effective societal governance of the new human genetic and reproductive technologies;

  • Center for Reproductive Rights - national organization that uses litigation to protect reproductive rights;

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (a.k.a. CDC) - government agency responsible for tracking and preventing infectious and chronic diseases, injuries, workplace hazards, disabilities, and environmental health threats;

  • CHAMP (a.k.a. Community HIV AIDS Mobilization Project) - national HIV/AIDS organization that focuses on building bridges between HIV/AIDS, reproductive rights, economic and social justice issues;

  • Choice - a woman's right to choose to continue or terminate a pregnancy and to obtain safe and legal abortion services.

  • Choice USA - national organization that focuses on training and mobilizing young people around reproductive health, rights and justice issues;

  • Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program at Hampshire College (a.k.a. CLPP) - reproductive rights organization that trains, educates, and inspires new leaders, organizers, and supporters nationwide;

  • Committee on Women, Population and the Environment (a.k.a. CWPE) - multi-racial alliance committed to promoting the social and economic empowerment of women in a context of global peace and justice;

  • Contraception (a.k.a. birth control) - 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.

  • Emergency Contraception (a.k.a. EC, Morning-after Pill) - high-dosage birth control pills 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)

  • EMERJ (a.k.a. Expanding the Movement and Empowerment for Reproductive Justice) long-term movement-building reproductive justice initiative that includes ACRJ, Western States Center, CLRJ and PEP

  • EMILY's List - political organization that identifies and supports pro-choice women candidates; name stands for Early Money Is Like Yeast and the concept that the sooner one invests in a candidate, the more successful she will be

  • Exhale - national organization that provides post-abortion counseling through a nationwide, multilingual talkline;

  • Federal Abortion Ban (a.k.a. "Partial-Birth Abortion Ban") - federal ban on the dilation and extraction abortion procedure; passed in 2003 and upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court in 2007

  • Federal Drug Administration (a.k.a. FDA) - government agency responsible for ensuring the safety, effectiveness of drugs, other medical products, cosmetics and our food supply.

  • Feminist Majority Foundation (a.k.a. FMF) - national women's and reproductive rights organization;

  • Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (a.k.a. FACE Act) - federal legislation that prohibits the use of force, the threat of force, or physical obstruction to prevent individuals from obtaining or providing reproductive health care services

  • Gender - refers to society's ideas of what it means to be women or men, girls or boys and therefore, how we should think, feel and act
  • Gender Non-Conforming - a term for individuals whose gender expression is different from the society expectations based on their assigned sex 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.

  • Global Gag Rule (a.k.a. Mexico City Policy) - US restrictions that prohibit any family planning assistance provided to foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that use any other funding to perform abortions (except in cases of rape, incest or life endangerment), provide counseling or referral for abortions, or lobby to make abortion legal or more available in their country

  • Guttmacher Institute - organization focused on sexual and reproductive health research, policy analysis and public education;

  • HIV/AIDS - HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus; it is a virus that 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 that prohibits the use of federal Medicaid funding for most abortion procedures

  • 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

  • Law Students for Reproductive Justice (a.k.a. LSRJ) - national organization that educates, organizes, and helps law students to successfully defend and expand reproductive rights;

  • The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center - pro-choice, multi-service agency that provides social and health services, engages in public policy at all levels, houses dozens of community-based groups, and provides educational, recreational and cultural programming for the LGBT community in New York;

  • LGBTQ (a.k.a. GLBTQ) - refers to individuals who self-identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Queer; can be 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.k.a. Medication Abortion) - medical procedure that induces abortion by taking medications such as RU-486

  • Medical Students for Choice (a.k.a. MSFC) - national organization that works to train the next generation of abortion providers by making sure that abortion and reproductive health care are included in medical school curricula;

  • Microbicides - a range of woman-initiated, topical products (i.e., foams, gels, rings, films) in development to prevent the transmission of HIV and other STIs. Thus far, no microbicide has been proven to be effective during clinical trials.

  • Morning-after pill (a.k.a. emergency contraception) - high-dosage birth control pills that can prevent pregnancy if taken within 5 days after unprotected vaginal intercourse or if primary birth control method fails (not to be confused with RU-486 or medical abortion)

  • NARAL Pro-Choice America (a.k.a. NARAL) - 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;

  • National Abortion Federation (a.k.a. NAF) - organization of abortion providers;

  • National Advocates for Pregnant Women (a.k.a. NAPW) -organization that advocates for and defends the rights of pregnant and parenting women;

  • National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (a.k.a. NAPAWF) - social justice organization focused on Asian Pacific American women with a strong emphasis on reproductive justice, anti-trafficking and immigrant rights;

  • National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (a.k.a. NGLTF, the Task Force) - national LGBT organization;

  • National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (a.k.a. NLIRH, Latina Institute) - reproductive justice organization focused on Latinas and their communities;

  • National Network of Abortion Funds (a.k.a. NNAF) - association of local, regional and national abortion funds, which provide financial and other support to women seeking abortions;

  • National Organization for Women (a.k.a. NOW) - women's rights organization;

  • National Women's Health Network (a.k.a. NWHN) - national organization dedicated to improving the health of all women by developing and promoting a critical analysis of health issues in order to shape policy and inform consumer decision-making;

  • National Women's Law Center - national reproductive rights organization;
  • New Leadership Networking Initiative (a.k.a. NLNI) - network of young and emerging leaders in reproductive rights and other social justice movements based at Hampshire College;

  • 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 refusals - the refusal of a pharmacist or pharmacy to fill legal prescriptions for birth control and emergency contraception

  • Planned Parenthood Federation of America (a.k.a. PPFA) -reproductive health and rights organization; 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 - political position that supports a woman's right to choose to continue or terminate a pregnancy and to obtain safe and legal abortion services

  • Pro-Choice Public Education Project (a.k.a. PEP) - national reproductive justice organization dedicated to educating and empowering young women through research, communications, movement-building and leadership development;

  • Queer (a.k.a. LGBTQ, GLBTQ) - 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.

  • 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

  • Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (a.k.a. RCRC) - national coalition of organizations of the major faiths and their affiliates that support reproductive rights;

  • Reproductive Health Advocacy - social justice activism that focuses on reproductive health disparities and inequities by providing services to marginalized communities

  • Reproductive Health Technologies Project (a.k.a. RHTP) - national organization that advocates for women's access to safe and effective methods to achieve reproductive freedom;

  • Reproductive Justice - social justice activism that focuses on the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, economic, and social well-being of women and girls, and believes that reproductive justice will be achieved when women and girls 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 - basis of Roe v. Wade decision legalizing 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 to abortion as guaranteed by the constitutional right to privacy

  • RU-486 - brand name for mifepristone, drug used in combination with misoprostol to induce abortion (not to be confused with emergency contraception) in a medication abortion. 

  • Safer Sex - taking precautions to prevent pregnancy and STD'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 STD's. No sex is completely "safe".

  • STD - Sexually transmitted diseases are any disease transmitted through sexual contact; recently public health experts are using the term STI (sexually transmitted infections) because the concept of "disease" usually means that there are clear signs or symptoms of infection, and many of the most common STD's (for example, herpes and human papilloma virus, or HPV) often don't cause symptoms. STD's can have serious medical consequences if left untreated.

  • SIECUS (a.k.a. Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States) - national organization that advocates for the right of all people to accurate information, comprehensive education about sexuality, and sexual health services;

  • SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective - coalition of local, regional and national organizations dedicated to improving the lives of women of color, specifically through a reproductive justice framework;

  • Surgical Abortion - medical procedure that ends a pregnancy by emptying the uterus (or womb) with special instruments

  • TAWG (a.k.a. Training and Access Working Group) - coalition of reproductive health and rights activists that works on issues related to training abortion providers and access to reproductive health services

  • Teen Endangerment Act, TEA (a.k.a. Child Custody Protection Act, CCPA) - 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

  • Third Wave Foundation - feminist foundation that supports young women and transgender people, 15-30, by providing resources and building the capacity of organizations working on a variety of social justice issues;

  • 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 describe themselves as trans.  "Trans" is often used as an umbrella term to include transgender people, transsexuals, cross-dressers, masculine-identified females, feminine-identified males, and other gender variant or gender queer people. Often trans and/or gender non-conforming people identify as or express themselves in a way that doesn't seem to match the sex to which they were assigned at birth. This can mean identifying as the opposite gender or not identifying with male or female (seeing gender as a spectrum, not a binary). Trans people come from every race, class, sexual orientation, age, and ability. Some people choose to medically transition to another gender (through hormone therapy or surgery or both).

  • Unborn Victims of Violence Act (UVVA) - federal legislation that defines a fetus as a "child in utero" and provides it, but not the pregnant woman, protection from violent crime; affords fetus legal standing separate from pregnant woman; this law was passed in 2004

  • Western States Center - regional capacity-building organization that educates, trains, organizes and supports social justice organizations in the Western US;

Special thanks to: Jessica Arons, Center for American Progress; Priscilla Huang, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum; Eveline Shen, Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice; RJ Thompson, Causes in Common;

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