Brooklyn Law Review


Pollution is a rampant issue in the United States, ranging from smog-filled air to infertile soil to contaminated water. Yet despite the pervasive nature of pollution, its harms are not equally distributed amongst society. Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities disproportionately bear the burden of pollution and consequently suffer more harms because of it. Many of the health consequences from pollution are reproductive in nature: proximity to pollution can compromise fertility, cause difficulty in carrying a pregnancy to term and result in birth defects, disabilities, and reproductive cancers. This note focuses on the reproductive consequences of pollution and relies upon the intersection of the established environmental justice and reproductive justice movements to seek solutions. These movements focus on equity, autonomy, and the uplifting of communities. As such, this note’s solutions, which aim to alleviate the injustices of environmental reproductive harms, are also essential elements for racial justice generally. To mitigate and begin correcting the longstanding harms that stem from the systemic subjugation of BIPOC communities, this note posits that federal acknowledgement, expanded healthcare coverage for fertility treatment, and community-based reparations are essential. These are moneyed solutions in large part because the historic subjugation of minority groups in the United States has resulted in the persistent and worsening racial wealth gap. By providing access to healthcare, essential to a racialized problem, as well as funds that will be invested directly into affected communities at community members’ direction, these solutions can help reinstate autonomy, agency, and power in communities that have been done dirty for generations.