Higher Temperatures, Lower Maternal & Fetal Health

Extinction Rebellion event

During this year’s Climate Week in New York, 3 Generations is focused on the intersection of climate change and reproductive health. As climate change is worsening and extreme weather events are becoming more common we are deeply troubled by the impact on women’s reproductive health. Disasters affect reproductive health in many ways, from the simple to the terrifying.

Let’s review a few here:
The number of climate refugees is increasing, and the UN estimates that eighty percent of people displaced are women and children.
While evacuating a flood or fire survival becomes the first priority and packing or maintaining access to medications may not be possible.
Routine checkups and access to health centers may not be possible or difficult, leading to increased unwanted pregnancies and health complications.
Climate refugees are frequently forced to take unsafe routes, stay in dangerous housing, or sleep on the street, making them vulnerable to sexual assault, violence, and disease.
Rising temperatures and air pollution caused by fracking, burning fossil fuels, and wildfires can cause premature birth, low birth weight, stillbirths, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia.
Air pollution and heat are also linked to childhood developmental issues with a follow-on impact on later reproductive health.

It goes without saying that the effects and symptoms of climate change disproportionately affect low-income people of color and women. Low-income neighborhoods and black communities have been purposefully targeted for toxic dumping and the placement of factories that release toxins. Lack of green spaces leads to greater heat increases. Additionally, these communities face air pollution and water contamination as our film A Different American Dream demonstrated. Racial and economic targeting have always been interconnected with reproductive health since these factors make pregnant women and infants more susceptible to illness and other health issues. Climate change has only exacerbated these disparities. We have touched on these issues in several of our films including The Devil Came On Horseback and Tricked.

At 3 Generations, while we continue to focus on the curtailing of established reproductive rights, let us not overlook the role climate change is playing too. Gender, racial, and economic rights cannot be ignored while fighting to save our planet. Defending reproductive justice is essential. Please connect with us on social media @3_generations as we continue to amplify the voices of those who will help shape the future of reproductive justice and as we cover Climate Week New York 2023.