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Hand holding sign which reads, "Keep Abortion Safe + Legal"

State Abortion Bans Threaten Nearly Seven Million Black Women

Bans compound threats to Black women including the Black maternal health crisis and barriers to economic stability

Read the Report (PDF)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the National Partnership for Women & Families (NPWF) and In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda released a new analysis on the threats that nearly 7 million Black women – 57 percent of all Black women of reproductive age – face in the 26 states that have banned or are likely to ban abortion following the Supreme Court’s overturn of federal abortion rights in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Black communities have long faced systemic barriers and inadequate access to reproductive autonomy, rights and care due to multiple systems of oppression. For example, Black women are more than three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts – they not only have the highest maternal mortality rates in the country, but also face a disproportionate burden of the maternal mental health crisis. Because of this, extreme restrictions on abortion access are even more dangerous. The report details the far-reaching consequences of Dobbs in Black communities, from the diminishing access to abortion providers, to the possible increased financial costs – such as the cost of traveling long distances for an abortion or to receive care, missed wages, and more. Even more, abortion bans are impacting how young people are approaching the workforce.

A recent poll by In Our Own Voice found that abortion bans are already impacting the personal choices that Black women are making about pregnancy and having children. Nearly two-thirds of the Black women polled living in states with abortion restrictions have thought about one or more of the following: not having kids or additional children, risk of death, feeling less safe, moving to another state, and the risk of being arrested due to a pregnancy outcome.

“Black women have always faced attacks on their bodily autonomy,” said Jocelyn C. Frye, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “From our nation’s earliest days, Black women’s humanity was disrespected and disregarded, denying them the freedom to make decisions about their reproductive health and when or whether to start a family. And, even when laws changed for the better, Black women often continued to confront biases and stereotypes in the health care system questioning their decisions and choices. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the Dobbs reversal of Roe v. Wade has delivered some of its cruelest blows to the health, wellbeing and autonomy of Black women. And it is no mere coincidence that abortion bans and restrictions have only exacerbated the Black maternal health crisis. Many of the states with the most extreme abortion restrictions are also states with some of the highest Black maternal mortality rates in the nation.“

“Widespread attacks on abortion access are part of a broader political agenda to restrict bodily autonomy and freedom, particularly for Black women. The loss of abortion rights is deeply personal for Black women, who are facing increasingly difficult decisions about pregnancy and having children due to the risks that abortion bans pose to their well-being,” said Regina Davis Moss, President & CEO In Our Own Voice. “But reversing the devastating impact of the overturn of Roe v. Wade will require much more than restoring federal abortion rights. Our analysis makes it clearer than ever that a comprehensive Reproductive Justice policy agenda is required to address the many facets – health, economic security and more – that enable Black women to decide if, when and how to have children.”

Specifically, the new report reveals that:

  • More than 6.7 million Black women57 percent of all Black women of reproductive age (ages 15-49) – live in the 26 states that have banned or are likely to ban abortion.
    1. Nearly 55 percent of all Black women of reproductive age in the United States live in states that have both banned or are likely to ban abortion and have above-average maternal mortality. 
  • More than 58 percent of all Black women who live in these 26 states are already mothers.Black mothers are especially likely to be their family’s primary or sole breadwinner, making the economic consequences of a lack of abortion access especially salient.
  • Nearly 2.7 million Black women living in these states are economically insecure, making them more likely to lack funds to travel to another state for abortion care.
  • Nearly 57 percent of disabled Black women live in these 26 states. Disabled people already face barriers and discrimination in accessing health care and disabled people of color experience a “double burden” compounded by their intersecting identities.

Read the full analysis, which includes data for each of the 26 states, here.

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