During ESSENCE Fest in New Orleans, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice…
It’s only been 24 hours and I’m still pumped with excitement and ready for action. I’m feeding off of the energy of the thousands of women who I stood in solidarity with on the steps of the Supreme Court of the United States on Mar. 4 at the #MyRightMyDecision rally. I do not take lightly the honor of being able to address the crowd on behalf of In Our Own Voice: Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda.
Despite the air being crisp and Mother Nature reminding us that it’s still winter, I did not feel the chill as I removed my jacket and walked up to the microphone. My overwhelming sense of pride associated with speaking on behalf of Black women covered me like a blanket and I instantly felt warmth.
It is important for the Supreme Court justices to know that this case, June Medical Services v. Russo, which imposes medically unnecessary abortion restrictions on women, could drastically impact access to care for Black communities.
Women With A Vision, our partner organization in Louisiana, led the effort to understand the attacks on abortion rights within a Reproductive Justice frame that addresses the persistent and oppressive barriers for historically marginalized communities, such as Black Women, LGBTQ+ folks, undocumented people, rural residents and disabled individuals.
As our country quietly struggles with a maternal health crisis, Black women are bearing the brunt and dying at alarming rates. Black women are three to four times more likely to experience a PREVENTABLE pregnancy-related death than white women. The impacts of maternal mortality and abortion restrictions are closely related. Women who were denied an abortion and then gave birth report worse health outcomes up to five years later as compared to women who received an abortion. States, like Louisiana, with higher numbers of abortion restrictions are the same states that have poorer maternal health outcome.
As Black women, we walk in this world firmly vested in the dignity and bodily autonomy that allows us to make our own decisions about our bodies. We refuse to allow judges who know nothing about us, politicians who care little about us and other anti-abortion hypocrites to control our reproduction. We must ensure that our voices are part of this ongoing narrative. Black women are disproportionately impacted by these oppressive laws that limit our right to control our bodies and our lives. The Reproductive Justice framework demands bodily autonomy and dignity. The Supreme Court needs to trust that Black women know what’s best for them and their families.