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Unforeseen struggles for poor, pregnant Blacks in post-Roe era


After the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, women in states that now outlaw abortion have scrambled to cobble together piecemeal solutions, including traveling across state lines, an expert told ABC News.

However, for many that won’t be an option, according to Deon Haywood, executive director of New Orleans women’s health organization Women with a Vision.

“If you have a job where you’re being paid hourly and being paid minimum wage, how easy would it be for you to be able to leave your job or existing kids to leave to drive somewhere, to be driven somewhere … to have an abortion and then come back?” Haywood told ABC News.

“It wouldn’t work for them,” she added. “It just wouldn’t work. It’s not practical for their lives, the lives that they are living.”

Forty-nine percent of abortion patients have an income below the poverty line, according to the Guttmacher Institute. And in Louisiana, where Haywood lives, the maternal mortality rate is one of the worst in the nation, especially among Black women. The state has since shuttered its abortion clinics, though a Louisiana judge temporarily blocked enforcement of the state’s “trigger” abortion ban Monday.

“For the Black women I work with who already fear entering the health care system, this just exacerbates that even more,” Haywood said. “The idea that somebody in the state that doesn’t care what we say about Louisiana, in the state that doesn’t care about people, that people will have to carry a child to term when they’re already living in substandard housing, when their children are not getting the best education, when they can barely see their families.”

And for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women, many of whom also struggle with homelessness, accessing safe abortions in a different state is completely out of the question, according to Haywood.

“If one of our clients were to have an unintended pregnancy, then if they’re on probation and parole or house arrest, they’re not going anywhere,” she said.

Haywood said the lack of information and transparency about safe abortion options, especially in Louisiana, which has one of the country’s lowest literacy rates, may also drive women to seek recourse in dangerous home remedies.

“If you get pregnant, we know that people when they’re reacting out of fear we don’t always make the best decision for ourselves, and so we’re unsure what to do,” she said.

“One person wanted to know, ‘How much bleach should I mix with my cold drink or juice to end my pregnancy?’” she added. “We’re saying, ‘Absolutely don’t take bleach, don’t mix any household cleaner or chemicals and ingest them because of the danger of poisoning or death.’”

Haywood said her organization is doubling down on its efforts to equip women of color in New Orleans with reproductive health information and connecting them with safe resources.

“Black women have intersectional lives,” she said. “It’s a particular way that people of color and Black people fight because we don’t have the privilege to sit on one thing.”

“I can’t just talk about abortion and not talk about health care. I can’t talk about health care if I’m not talking about access to housing as a basic, fundamental human right,” she added.