Black women’s* lives are rich and complex — our experiences matter. For us, Reproductive Justice is the human right to control our bodies, our sexuality, our gender, our work, and our reproduction. That right can only be achieved when all women and girls have the complete economic, social, and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about our bodies, our families, and our communities in all areas of our lives. We are a national network of Black women leaders and activists. Our goal is to lay the foundation for ongoing policy change at the national and state levels that impacts the lives and well-being of Black women and their families.
Abortion Rights and Access
Access to abortion care cannot be separated from other human and reproductive rights. We trust Black women to make the important personal decisions that are best for themselves and their families. We support access to abortion care, including having insurance coverage and young people have bodily autonomy, so every woman – regardless of her income – can access affordable and safe abortion care when she needs it.
Black women are the largest voting constituency in the American electorate. Every year, we register voters, organize our communities, and deliver the votes that give so many local, state, and national politicians their jobs. We will continue to use the power of the ballot to elect those who understand our lived experiences, prioritize our interests, and respect our basic human rights. And we will hold elected officials accountable.
Contraceptive Equity and Comprehensive Sex Education
Historically, Black people have been the targets of coercive contraceptive practices and policies, misinformation about the use of contraceptives, and unethical contraceptive testing. Our systems lack comprehensive sexual health education that includes information and strategies about STI prevention and care, addressing social pressure, discussing stigma, and fostering self-esteem. We call for access to timely, safe, effective and affordable contraceptives comprehensive and medically-accurate sexual education.
Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders
Identifying and developing the next generation of leaders is key to sustaining our movement. Black women organizational leaders, health professionals, academics and community leaders are vital spokespeople for our issues. We created the “Next Generation Leadership Initiative” paid pipeline fellowship for students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities to develop their leadership skills and provide them with training in public policy, advocacy, community organizing, and strategic communications.
Based on Census data from 2022, the wage gap for Black women compared to non-Hispanic white men is 67 cents for full time, year-round workers and 64 cents for all workers (including part time). Over time, Black women are underpaid close to $50 billion. These wage disparities exist at every income level and deprive Black families of financial security and opportunities for economic advancement. We support equal pay, adequate wages to support our families, and economic policies that ensure an opportunity for all people to achieve strong financial security for all people regardless of race, gender, sexual identity, and socio-economic status.
We stand in unity with our sisters and brothers around the country who are marching and protesting against police brutality. We call for an end to state-sanctioned violence against Black people and demand equal justice under the law for all.
Millions of Black women and their families have gained access to affordable health care due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Since its passage, the uninsured rate for women has nearly halved from 18 percent in 2008 to 11 percent in 2018. And while disparities in coverage still exist, women of color – who are more likely to be uninsured due to systemic inequities – have experienced particularly significant gains in health care coverage over the last decade. We reject any attempt to roll back health care coverage and protections, including eliminating coverage for pre-existing conditions, changes to Essential Benefits, and cuts to Medicaid or Medicare.
The dual impact of systemic homophobia and racism can harm Black women, femmes, queer, trans and gender non-conforming people. We support programs and policies that ensure Black LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly youth, have the resources and the right to make healthy decisions about their lives, bodies, gender, and sexuality.
The United States has the highest maternal death rate of all industrialized nations and is among the most dangerous places in the world to give birth. Black women in the U.S. are three to five times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than their white counterparts. This is not only a public health crisis but a moral one as well. We support Black women’s access to high-quality, affordable health care before, during, and after pregnancy as a critical component of our human rights.
Harmful policies and practices degrade not only our communities but also life-sustaining natural resources like clean air and water. From exposure to toxins to climate change, many environmental pollutants jeopardize Black women, girls, and gender expansive people’s reproductive and overall health. Black women are also disproportionately exposed to dangerous ingredients in our personal care, hair and beauty products, We believe that every individual has the human right to live and raise families free from the health risks posed by hazardous pollutants, lethal chemicals, and industrial waste.
More than half of Black women (53%) report experiencing sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking, compared to 48% of white women. And 40-60% of Black girls report being the victim of some form of coercive sexual contact by age 18. Black women are also far more likely to be victims of homicide than white women. Black women, girls, and gender-expansive individuals are generally under-supported by our current health care system and face challenges that prevent them from getting the care and services they need.
School provides the stepping-stone to post- secondary education and employment opportunities later in life. Black girls are more likely to receive corporal punishment, be suspended, arrested, or referred to law enforcement than white girls. We support the right to achieve academic excellence in a safe, welcoming, and dignified environment, and reject zero tolerance policies that feed the School-to-Prison Pipeline. We support young Black girls receiving an education that prepares them for careers of their choosing and empowers them to feel that their lives are worthy.
Read more about our causes in the Re-Imagining Policy: In Pursuit of Black Reproductive Justice, 2023 Black Reproductive Justice Policy Agenda (PDF)
* Because the Reproductive Justice framework encompasses bodily integrity and autonomy, our use of the term “women” includes cis, femmes, trans, agender, gender non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals