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Why we should care about Roe v Wade and what we should do

In this podcast episode Neil Ballantyne talks to Professor Liz Beddoe about the topic of reproductive justice and the implications of the recent decision by the US Supreme Court to overturn the famous 1973 court ruling of Roe v Wade. 

Liz also highlights some of the actions that social workers and social work educators can take to promote an awareness of reproductive rights.

Beddoe, L. (2022). Reproductive justice, abortion rights and social work, Critical and Radical Social Work, 10(1), 7-22. Retrieved Jul 26, 2022, from https://bristoluniversitypressdigital.com/view/journals/crsw/10/1/article-p7.xml

Photo by Aiden Frazier on Unsplash

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Who is seen and heard in social work?

I have been thinking about some of the wider implications of the Abuse in Care Royal Commission; wondering about what might change as a result – and what might not. The legacy of suffering generated in the care system is, in many ways, a damning indictment of state social work (Hyslop, 2022, p.65).

If you haven’t read the December 2021 Redress Report (He Purapura Ora, he Māra Tipu), I’d encourage you to do so. Not only is the scale and detail gob-smacking, the minimalist and destructive institutional responses to revelations of widespread systemic abuse are equally troubling: “It is incomprehensible that human beings could behave like this towards another. What is just as baffling is how those in authority failed in their responses to survivors’ requests for redress.” (Royal Commission, p.5)

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Reproductive justice: The fight here is not over

Eileen Joy and Liz Beddoe

We knew that it was coming, the leaked  US Supreme Court draft opinion strongly suggested Roe would fall, yet when it did our geographical distance and that advance knowledge did not make it less painful.

Roe versus Wade has fallen, and with it the constitutional right to an abortion in the United States is gone. Abortion laws remain, but the right is gone. Now access to abortion depends on the whims of individual states, many of which had ‘trigger’ laws ready to be enacted once Roe fell.

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Building whānau advocacy

There is currently a movement within Oranga Tamariki to devolve power and resources to hapū and iwi, alongside and together with devolvement to local communities. The focus is on a new system that is ‘locally led, centrally enabled’ 

This direction is shaped by the multiple reviews, inquiries and reforms over the last 3 years, particularly the Waitangi Tribunal findings, which recommended the child welfare system apparatus move away from a ‘notify-investigate’ system to one that is radically different in terms of structure, aims, powerholders and resource distribution. Calls to create meaningful partnerships with iwi and hapū were reiterated as a method to achieve this (they were already required under the 2019 amendments to the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989). Returning to regional and community-based commissioning of services, focussed on earlier prevention and local decision-making, are at the forefront of the change. These directions are similar to those happening elsewhere in the globe, where the weight of the deep inequities reflected in child welfare systems are calling attention to the inherent problems of focussing only on children in societies highly structured by class, ethnicity and gender; where to do so creates artificial and often harmful distinctions between what children need and what the adults who care for them need; and where the power connected to statute distorts relationships and challenges participatory practice. (for example, see the US debate here, the Australian debate outlined here Tied up with this is recognition of the long reach of colonisation and its repercussions today.

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Saying “No” to a degraded form of social work


A call to action from two social work colleagues involved with Social Workers 4 Change in Ireland. The RSW collective stand in solidarity with them. Please read and sign the petition.