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Roe was the Floor

“Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” As we mark the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Fannie Lou Hamer’s words remain relevant in our fight for Reproductive Justice. As we acknowledge the second Roe anniversary post the Dobbs decision, over a dozen states have effectively banned abortion care and several others have severely limited access. It is not a coincidence that several of those states have some of the highest populations of Black people in the United States. Reproductive Justice advocates have long been advocating for the expansion of abortion access and now that we face some of the most severe restrictions we have seen in decades, we must demand more from our policymakers than the same policy ideas that have brought us to our current reality.

US after Roe

Interactive Map: US Abortion Policies and Access After Roe | Guttmacher …

Shortly after the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, anti-abortion lawmakers immediately legislated our communities out of our rights. With precision, they ensured access to marginalized communities would be limited and paved the way for decades of racist and misogynistic policy that continues to undermine our bodily autonomy. For example, the Hyde Amendment was first added to the 1977 Medicaid appropriation bill and quickly spread across federally funded programs – effectively banning federal coverage of abortion care. Anti-abortion lawmakers across the country deployed this strategy again after Dobbs and used the aftermath of the decision to immediately pass anti-abortion laws alongside other policies attacking our bodily autonomy.

As we kick off an important election year, it is important that all candidates up and down the ballot push for more than just the “right” to abortion. As Reproductive Justice advocates, we know the idea of a right is tenuous at best, whether it is because of our race, gender, sexuality, or economic status. Is a legal right enough if we can’t access the care we need? The reality is Black women, girls, and gender expansive individuals had limited access to abortion care before the Dobbs decision. Our policymakers must be honest about the lived experiences of our communities to create impactful policy that will ensure everyone can access their rights safely, affordably, and without legal repercussions. Without meaningful efforts to integrate the Reproductive Justice framework into legislative solutions, we risk losing the opportunity to create policies that liberate us all.

Contraceptive access, LGBTQIA+ rights, accurate school curriculums, and voting rights are just some of the issues anti-Reproductive Justice lawmakers have targeted alongside abortion access in the last few years. These fights, many of which started in states with higher-than-average Black populations, have made their way to Congress and the campaign trail. Politicians callously discuss what rights we as Black women, girls, and gender-expansive individuals “deserve” to have, with little consideration for our lived experiences.

That is exactly why In Our Own Voice will continue to uplift and fight for Reproductive Justice policy in 2024 and why we think you should too. Through our I AM A REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE VOTER initiative, we ask you to join us in reminding our policymakers why Reproductive Justice informed policy solutions are the only thing that will ensure all of us can thrive.

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