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Black leaders not surprised Roe is at risk, but prepared for the aftermath


When Donald Trump was elected president, Marcela Howell, the founder and executive director of a national reproductive justice advocacy group in Washington, D.C., said she and other leaders immediately began to consider ways to protect Roe v. Wade should it come under attack, reports NBC BLK.

After a leaked draft opinion last month suggested the Supreme Court was ready to overturn the constitutional right to abortion, the group she leads, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, began to make concerted efforts to reach Black women voters across the country.

If Roe is overturned, Howell said the organization would work with its partners and abortion fund-raising groups to provide resources for women.

In interviews with NBC News, Howell and other Black leaders said they weren’t surprised by the draft opinion because they had been anticipating it for years as a result of continuing abortion rights rollbacks across the country. In 2021 alone, states enacted more than 100 abortion restrictions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which studies and promotes reproductive rights. But leaders are still preparing for how to deal with the aftermath.

“None of this is different. This has been happening forever,” said Linda Goler Blount, president and CEO of the Black Women’s Health Imperative. “It’s in the news, perhaps in a different way. But there’s nothing new about this.”

Howell said that low-income people in particular faced hurdles for years. Because the Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funds from being used to cover most abortions, poor women aren’t able to use Medicaid to pay for the cost of treatment.

“There are all these kinds of barriers that have been set in front of women of low income, which are predominantly women of color. And those barriers have been there,” Howell said. “So Roe has always been the floor, not the ceiling.”

But Roe’s demise means that 23 states would ban almost all abortions immediately, with trigger laws (abortion restrictions that remain unenforceable while Roe is in place), in 13 of them, forcing women to travel out of state to obtain abortion services.