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Statement of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda President and CEO Marcela Howell
WASHINGTON — Today, President Biden delivered the State of the Union address. In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda President and CEO Marcela Howell issued the following statement:
“We were overjoyed on January 20, 2021, as we watched a new administration being sworn in. We voted for change and cheered when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, a Black and Asian woman, were sworn in as president and vice president of the United States. We were looking forward to the changes that would help families thrive whether they lived in cities, suburbs, or rural areas. We applauded as President Biden took steps to restore civil and human rights that were weakened or destroyed by the last administration.
“But the president is not an island, he needs the support and partnership of Congress to effect deep-rooted and sustainable change. Instead, conservatives in Congress, especially in the U.S. Senate, have shamefully obstructed the president and his administration, particularly on civil and human rights initiatives. They refused to support voting rights even as their colleagues in the states enacted Jim Crow voter suppression laws to place barriers to voting for Black and Brown citizens. Just yesterday, we saw the Women’s Health Protection Act defeated — leaving women and people who seek the full range of reproductive health care at risk, while conservative state legislatures pass abortion bans.
“While Republicans are using racism and scare tactics to turn parents against teachers, we believe that teachers should be respected and supported.
“While Republicans support legislation that protects the wealthiest of the wealthy, we believe that our laws should help working-class and low-income families to thrive.
“While Republicans attack our democracy, we believe that our right to participatory government is the backbone of that democracy.
“President Biden has shown unprecedented support of and respect for Black women’s leadership, starting with his selection of Vice President Harris as his running mate, his appointments of Black women into high levels in his administration and, most recently, his nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. We applaud the president’s commitment to making the government more reflective of the country it serves.
“As we assess the state of the union, without question, President Biden gets high marks for supporting legislation on childcare, voting rights, maternal health, abortion access, LGBTQ+ rights, immigrant rights and worker’s rights. But the same senators who consistently block voting rights protections also block reproductive rights protections, immigrant rights, protections for transgender people, and safety nets for working-class families. Make no mistake, the enemies of equality are determined to shut down progress at every turn.
“It is time to pass Build Back Better and protect the lives of all who live in the United States.
“It is time to protect bodily autonomy and ensure all people have access to abortion services.
“It is time to pass a comprehensive voting rights bill that rejects the voter suppression tactics of the far right.
“Black women are even more determined to fight for our human and civil rights. We demand the right to exercise bodily autonomy, to have the resources to raise our families with dignity and to exercise our constitutional right to vote. And nothing will stop us!
“Black women are putting politicians on notice; we are holding them accountable to their oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution. It is not an easy task. We invite the country to stand and fight with us to defend human and civil rights. Join us in demanding that elected officials uphold and abide by the U.S. Constitution. We will not stop until America’s promise of liberty and justice for all is our lived reality.”
In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda is a national Reproductive Justice organization focused on lifting up the voices of Black women leaders at the national, regional, and state levels in our ongoing fight to secure Reproductive Justice for Black women, femmes, queer, trans and gender non-conforming people and youth. Our strategic partners include Black Women for Wellness, Black Women’s Health Imperative, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, SisterLove, Inc., SisterReach, SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW, The Afiya Center and Women With A Vision.