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January Is a Month to Recommit to the Struggle for Reproductive Justice

Opinion:”We have come a long way. We’ve made gains against impossible odds. We have much to celebrate and much more to do.”
by Marcela Howell, January 16, 2018

With the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade—the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion—and the one-year anniversary of the Women’s March quickly approaching, this is a good time to reflect on the state of women’s rights and the lessons we’ve learned over the last year.

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Black Women Are Still Fighting for Our Lives Even if GOP Health Care Bill Fails

Republicans have now tried and failed three times to pass health care bills that would dismantle the Affordable Care Act — and potentially cut access to health care for millions. We’ve seen the introduction of hundreds of new reproductive health restrictions and insistent efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. In the midst of the GOP’s attack on women’s health, Charleena Lyles was killed by police. She was a pregnant Black woman who called the cops to her home for protection only to fall victim to their bullets. This is the unique kind of challenge black women face where health and state-sanctioned violence intersect. 

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Reproductive Justice Advocates Urge Senate Judiciary Panel to Block Confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch

For Immediate Release: March 15, 2017
For Interviews Contact: michelle@blackrj.org

Washington, D.C. — In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), and National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), along with 43 reproductive justice organizations, sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee urging them to reject the confirmation of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court because of his hostile record on women’s rights, which particularly impacts communities of color.

In the letter, reproductive justice groups stated, “Gorsuch’s record on human rights and justice issues is deplorable, and is especially detrimental and hostile towards women of color, youth, LGBTQ people and immigrants. It is clear that if nominated to the highest court in the land, he will take the country backwards not forward. As advocates for reproductive justice, we implore you to stand up for the rights of all people and block the nomination of Judge Gorsuch.”

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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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Women Win: U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt

June 27 2016

Today the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a woman’s constitutional right to make her own decisions about her health, family and future— no matter where she lives. By striking down the Texas law, HB2, the Court kept current clinics open in Texas, and set a precedent so that more clinics can open or reopen in the future.

“This is a win not just for women in Texas, but for women across the country,” stated Marcela Howell, founder and executive director for In Our Own Voice:National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda. “This decision sends a clear message to politicians set on denying women’s constitutional right to an abortion that these baseless and deceptive laws are unacceptable.”

Black women, young women, immigrant women and low-income women in Texas stand to benefit the most from this decision. The 725,000 Black women of reproductive age in Texas, plus the 12.5 million Black women in the other 20+ states with similar sham laws, will potentially be saved from higher costs, longer delays and extra steps when seeking an abortion thanks to the SCOTUS action. 

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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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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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