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Abstract

2019 marks 400 years since the first Africans were brought to the Virginia colony as captives, and deemed not human beings but rather the property of others. Black women have endured reproductive oppression since our arrival in the United States. This Article argues that current methods of reproductive oppression attempt to restore the State’s property interest in the bodies of Black women—specifically the basic rights of use and exclusion— once secured by enslavement. This Article seeks to identify some of the ways that current restrictions on women’s reproductive liberty mimic systems that once formally commodified Black women’s sexuality and reproductive labor. It concludes, however, that a Reproductive Justice framework can help remove these property interests in Black women’s bodies and return them to their rightful “owners.”

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