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Step Forward: Opening the Dialogue on Sexual Violence and Black Girls

By Nourbese Flint

In a classroom at Gardena High School, just outside of Los Angeles, a group of young Black women and women of color stand in a row and listen to a prompt: “If you don’t think young men respect you, step forward.” Each of the young women takes a step.

“If you’ve ever decided not to wear something tight or short because you thought men may talk to you or about you when you walk down the street, step forward.” Again, the young women all take a step.

Sexual harassment disproportionately impacts young Black women and women of color of all sexual orientations. Harassment can include physical, mental and emotional abuse, ranging  from a stare that makes a girl feel unsafe to objectifying remarks to unwanted sexual contact. As one high school student explained: “Sexual harassment to me is tearing down anyone, really. Physically, by touching; mentally, by calling them [sexualizing] names.” 

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Black Women and Abortion — New Data Tells an Old Story

new analysis from the Guttmacher Institute shows that more than half of women denied coverage for abortion under the Hyde Amendment are women of color. Other recent data show that while black women comprise only 14.9 percent of women of reproductive age, we make up 27.6 percent of abortion patients.

The reasons for these disparities are complex, and rooted in centuries of oppression. With the Supreme Court having ruled on the most significant abortion rights case in recent history, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, and the Hyde Amendment back in the news, it’s critical to understand the barriers to reproductive health that black women still face. 

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Hyde Amendment is bad policy (and unpopular too!)

In statements quoted in Anti-abortion group pressuring Kaine, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, perpetuates harmful myths about the Hyde Amendment, an annual budget policy rider that denies insurance coverage for abortion to women who receive their health care coverage from the government.

It’s time to get the facts straight. The reality is, voters oppose the 40-year-old policy. A poll from Hart Research Associates shows 86 percent of voters agree that “however we feel about abortion, politicians should not be allowed to deny a woman’s health coverage because she is poor.” People of all ages and political stripes share this view: 90 percent of voters ages 18 to 34, 84 percent of voters 65 and over, 79 percent of Republicans, and 94 percent of Democrats all agree.

Voters are not fooled and won’t be misled into supporting policies that threaten women’s health. Building on the momentum of the recent 5-3 Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, women of color of all ages are mobilizing across the country to take down the harshest remaining barrier to abortion access, namely the Hyde Amendment, and our movement is growing every day. 

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Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls Testimony on Reproductive Justice

April 28, 2016

I want to thank Representatives Bonnie Watson-Coleman, Robin Kelly and Yvette Clarke and the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls.

My name is Marcela Howell and I am the founder and executive director for In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda

In Our Own Voice was created in November 2014 as a national Reproductive Justice policy organization to increase the visibility of Black women and girls at the national and state levels in our ongoing policy fight to secure Reproductive Justice for all women and girls. Ours is a national-state partnership with seven Black women’s organizations: Black Women for Wellness in California, Black Women’s Health Imperative a national organization, New Voices for Reproductive Justice in Pennsylvania and Ohio, SisterLove, Inc., in Georgia, Sister Reach in Tennessee, SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW in Georgia and Women with a Vision in Louisiana.

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Written Testimony from Black Women Reproductive Justice Organizations

House Judicial Subcommittee on Constitution and Civil Justice
Hearing on H.R. 4924
Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) of 2016

Written Testimony from Black Women Reproductive Justice Organizations

April 14, 2016

We write to you in one voice on behalf of Reproductive Justice for Black women, immigrant women, young women and low-income women. We, the undersigned organizations, write to state for the record that we are adamantly opposed to the proposed Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), H.R. 4924.

This legislation, as with similar federal legislation introduced in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013 , is a blatant attempt to limit abortion access and is an affront to Black women’s right to decide what is best for us and our families.

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In Our Own Voice on Celebrating the 43rd Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Statement by Marcela Howell, Founder and Executive Director

“As President Obama concluded his last State of the Union, his message to the American people was clear, if a little unconventional. He set low expectation of working with the conservative-controlled Congress in his remaining months. However, he set high expectation for the American people. He issued a call to action for all Americans to take our future into our own hands – urging us to fulfill our civic duty by voting, engage in public service, and even protest.

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Clinic Violence is a Reproductive Justice Issue

January 21, 2016—Based on data recently released by the Feminist Majority Foundation, “harassment, intimidation, and threats against abortion providers have nearly doubled, with the percentage of clinics impacted increasing from 26.6% in 2010 to 51.9% in 2014.” In Our Own Voice joined Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-MD) and several other state and national advocates at the National Press Club on January 21, 2016, to speak out against clinic violence, and to urge the House Select Investigative Panel to turn their focus and address anti-abortion violence, or disband altogether.

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Black Women’s Organizations File U.S. Supreme Court Brief in Support of Abortion Rights in Texas

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Michelle Batchelor, 202-749-8366, michelle@blackrj.org

(January 5, 2016) Twelve Black women’s Reproductive Justice organizations, led by In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case Whole Woman’s Health, et al., v. Kirk Cole, Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, et al., highlighting the devastating impact of the clinic closures on Black women in Texas.

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Let’s Help Children of Color Breathe Easier

By Janette Robinson Flint, executive director of Black Women for Wellness
Cross-posted in LA Sentinel, November 20, 2015

When breathing is easy, we can think, create, and live fuller lives. But for many communities in Los Angeles, breathing is easier said than done. There are days where I look out the window, and can’t see the mountains that surround Los Angeles. On those days, I unconsciously avoid looking at the air we are breathing, yet I know that the smog will be heavier in the lungs of children in my community who have asthma.

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U.S. Supreme Court to Review Texas Law to Shut Down Clinics

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marcela Howell, 202-841-3292, marcela@blackrj.org

(November 13, 2015) – The U.S. Supreme Court, today, agreed to review a Texas law designed to shut down clinics that provide safe, legal abortion services. The case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, was brought by Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of a coalition of women’s healthcare providers to stop an anti-abortion law (HB2) that places medically unnecessary regulations on clinics in Texas that provide abortions.

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