With Roe v. Wade overturned, communities of color continue to fight for their rights
- Abortion advocates say communties of color will be most impacted by the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
- For decades, women of color have been on the front line of the fight for abortion rights.
Abortion advocates say that communities of color will bear the brunt of the overturning of the decades-long precedence of Roe v. Wade.
"We know this imminent ruling will have a dramatic impact on all people seeking to end a pregnancy and its consequences will reverberate nationwide," Lupe M. Rodríguez, the executive director at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, wrote in a statement to Insider.
"We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled," Associate Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the majority opinion. "It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people's elected representatives."
Experts and advocates stress that women of color are likely to be most impacted by this decision. According to a Guttmacher Institute report from 2004, Black and Hispanic women are, respectively, three and two times more likely to have an unintended pregnancy than white women. Nationally, Black women had 37% of abortions, white women had 34%, and Hispanic women had 22%.
This is tied to the fact that women of color are less likely to have access to contraceptive care or reproductive services. Women of color are more likely to be uninsured, versus white women, and are also more likely to be incarcerated and thus denied proper maternal health care. Black women are also nearly four times more likely to suffer a pregnancy-related death versus white women. Indigenous women—who are covered under the Indian Health Service (IHS)—have long been restricted from accessing abortion services, due to an amendment that prevents the use of federal funds to pay for an abortion.
Faye Wattleton, the first Black woman to serve as president of Planned Parenthood, stated on the steps of the Supreme Court in 1989 just after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Missouri in the Webster v. Reproductive Health Services —which held that measures that Missouri put into place to prevent abortion access were not unconstitutional—that the decision to allow the states to choose is wrong and that it puts the most vulnerable at risk.
'This Supreme Court decision once more slaps poor women in the face and says you do not have constitutional protections if your state sees fit to restrict them, and you do not have the resources to circumvent those restrictions,'' Wattleton said, according to a New York Times article from August 1989. ''The court says certain fundamental protections that are part of your human dignity and part of being a respected and decent human being are not yours.''
For decades, abortion advocates have pushed Congress to codify Roe.
The initial precedence of Roe v. Wade was ruled by the Supreme Court in January 1973. It stated that abortion was not unconstitutional according to the fourth amendment because of the "right to privacy". It was later solidified in 1992 in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
The right to choose was never legislated into law by Congress, which has prompted some members of Congress to push for the codification of Roe. Codifying Roe would mean affirming the right to an abortion without undue interference.
Senator Bernie Sanders, Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, and Representative Cori Bush stated Monday, May 3rd, that Democrats need to do everything necessary to make the right to an abortion become law.
"People elected Democrats precisely so we could lead in perilous moments like these—to codify Roe, hold corruption accountable, and have a President who uses his legal authority to break through Congressional gridlock on items from student debt to climate. It's high time we do it," Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter.
—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 3, 2022
Women of color have alwyas been on the front line of the fight for abortion rights.
Women of color have always been crucial in the fight for the right to choose. In the summer of 1989, 16 black women made history by issuing a brochure advocating for equal access to abortion, "We Remember: African-American Women are for Reproductive Freedom."
"This freedom—to choose and to exercise our choices is what we've fought and died for. Brought here in chains, and worked like mules, bred like beasts, whipped one day sold the next for 244 years were held in bondage ... Now once again somebody is trying to say that we can't handle freedom of choice. Only this time they are saying African American women can't think for themselves and therefore can't be allowed to make serious decisions." they wrote.
Since then many Black and women of color-led organizations, such as the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice and New Voices for Reproductive Justice, have sounded the alarm on the urgency to make the right to choose legislated into law.
"The leak of this draft decision is an act of bravery and love, and it expedites our strategy to protect bodily autonomy," executive director of the New Voices of Reproductive Justice Kelly Davis told Insider.
"However, those of us within the reproductive justice movement recognize that sexual and reproductive liberation extends well beyond the constraints of preserving Roe v. Wade," Davis continued. We will be organizing within the community, growing our political power, and asserting our human rights. We will also be galvanizing towards a future wherein Black women and gender expansive people enjoy lives devoid of violence, abuse and neglect in all sectors of society."
"There are 22 states ready to outlaw abortion outright and another 4 likely to do so," Rodríguez wrote in a statement to Insider. "We know that when abortion is criminalized, it is our communities—Latinas/x's, Black people, immigrants—who are most likely to be targeted and imprisoned."
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