On Feb. 20, the socialist-feminist organization Radical Women and the Comrades of Color Caucus of the Freedom Socialist Party hosted a virtual event, “Black Women Fire Up the Movement for Reproductive Justice,” in time to celebrate both Black History Month and March’s Women’s History Month.
The fight for reproductive rights and the required access to them is not over yet, as seen by the recent Texas ban on abortions past six weeks into a pregnancy. Next, if the Supreme Court decides to overturn Roe v. Wade, it will give at least 26 states the power to ban abortion rights altogether, according to research conducted by the Guttmacher Institute.
An estimated 40 million women, ages 13 to 44 live in states hostile towards abortion rights, the Guttmacher Institute found out. This means that women have to travel to other states where abortion rights are more liberal to get care, which is costly, as well as time-consuming.
Many pro-life conservatives are not only fighting against the right to an abortion but are also fighting against sexual education in school and contraception methods, which could prevent unplanned pregnancies and abortions. In addition, many conservatives are also actively fighting against universal health care and child care, making it difficult for women who are single parents to receive support from the government once giving birth.
“They actively fight against procedures that prevent the mental and physical harm of giving birth when one doesn’t want to, or one is pregnant in circumstances such as rape, or abuse,” National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice Organizer Irene Akingbade said. “I think what gets left out more or often in mainstream conversations at least, is how it is all connected to the ongoing history of this country attacking the bodily autonomy of women, Black people, Brown people, indigenous people, trans, and non-binary people, people who are physically or mentally disabled, undocumented immigrants, and other marginalized groups.
“Specifically this Black History Month I think it’s important to highlight how these attacks on reproductive rights affect the Black community. Unsurprisingly, these also disproportionately affect Black lives. Forcing a Black person to give birth in the U.S. can be a death sentence. The maternal mortality rate for Black people is three-and-a-half times higher than it is for White people.”
Black women, who are college graduates, die at a higher rate (1.6 times) of pregnancy-related issues than White women, who have not completed high school, according to Akingbade.