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The Supreme Court of Alabama. Photo from the Alabama Supreme Court/website

The Impact on Alabama’s Supreme Court “Fetal Personhood” Decision on Black Women

In response to the latest developments out of Alabama following the state’s Supreme Court ruling that an embryo is considered a person, Regina Davis Moss, President and CEO of In Our Own Voice, released the following statement:

“The Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling sets a harrowing precedent that is already threatening access to in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments, particularly for communities of color that need it most – three clinics in the state have already halted IVF services. While infertility is commonly thought of as an issue that only impacts wealthy white women, population data indicates that infertility is more prevalent in minority com­munities; in fact, Black women are twice as likely to experience infertility as white women. Black women also already have a lower likelihood of receiving treatment for infertility when compared to white women, not to mention having a lower likelihood of pregnancy and a higher likelihood of miscarriage. Expanding the definition of a “person” to include embryos is also a tactic that will only lead to the increased policing of pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes – especially for Black people with the capacity to become pregnant. We’ve already seen this happen in the recent case with Brittany Watts in Ohio.

This decision is a form of “stratified reproduction,” the phenomenon of prioritizing the reproduction of privileged groups over the reproduction of under­privileged groups. Court rulings against reproductive freedom, like this one, further widen the gap in access to fertility care for Black women and birthing people. This will impact care for Black women who are already vulnerable to inequitable fertility care – for example, Black women may not receive appropriate infertility referrals in a timely fashion because of healthcare provider bias or racist practices in medical institutions. Further, the ruling will impact the number of fertility care providers who are willing and able to practice in Alabama. We’ve already seen this happening in states with abortion bans and other restrictions on reproductive care. Providers and patients deserve the human right to build families with the use of reproductive technology without the fear of criminalization and harassment.

Reproductive Justice can only be achieved when Black women, girls, and gender-expansive people have the rights, information, and opportunity to make their own decisions about how to apply medical and technological advances to their lives. Our state laws and judicial systems should never interfere with our decisions about if, when and how we build families. What we need now are real policy solutions to improve and expand access to reproductive care and protect the rights of pregnant people or those who may become pregnant.


In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda is a national-state partnership focused on lifting up the voices of Black women leaders at the national and regional levels in our fight to secure Reproductive Justice for all women, femmes, and girls. Our eight strategic partners are Black Women for Wellness, Black Women’s Health Imperative, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, SisterLove, Inc. SisterReach, SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW, The Afiya Center and Women With A Vision.

(Photo from the Alabama Supreme Court/website)

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