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Monday, May 27, 2019

Scaling Back Reproductive Rights Are an Attack on Women, Especially Black Women

Lisa Holland

Senior Communications Manager

Anyone with compassion for others will find the anti-abortion efforts and rhetoric underway in Alabama and other states disgraceful. Having a woman walk into a health clinic or doctor’s office and not being able to receive the care she needs or being able to make her own reproductive choices is profoundly wrong, problematic and a huge step in the wrong direction for the future of health care. 

In Alabama, lawmakers have made the egregious decision to ban abortions in nearly all instances and to jail doctors who perform them. So, what we have is the interests of a fertilized ovum taking precedence over the needs of children and women. This is quite odd since life does not start at conception and end at birth.

But let’s be clear, women’s reproductive rights are not limited to abortion bans. Women should also have access to birth control and procedures that serve as birth control. This is especially true when it comes to Black women. According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, Black women in the United States experience unacceptably poor maternal health outcomes, including disproportionately high rates of death related to pregnancy or childbirth. In fact, they are three to four times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than white women. Would these lawmakers prefer that Black women die rather than receive a life-saving abortion?

And it’s worth noting that many Black women are low-income—the National Partnership says compared to white women, Black women are more likely to be uninsured and face greater financial barriers to care when they need it. In a number of circumstances, they go to clinics not for abortions but to receive accessible, affordable, much—needed preventative care like pelvic exams, Pap tests, cancer screenings, and treatment for vaginal infections. I guess these lawmakers also do not want Black women to be able to visit the doctor for basic services.

Without question, women should be able to make health care decisions for themselves. But it’s especially critical for Black women to be able to do so. When it comes down to having to choose between housing and health care because they have less money to support themselves and their families, lives are on the line. Instead of supporting a system that sets Black women up to be statistics, we must enact laws and policies that allow them to thrive, prosper and live their healthiest lives.