As the nation awaits the U.S. Supreme Court decision that could alter abortion services in many states, health experts are concerned this could limit health care access for minority women.
In the days leading up to the court’s decision, Black women from across the nation held reproductive justice rallies in Washington, D.C.
“Y’all are the wombs that risk. Y’all are the bodies they’re trying to eliminate,” said Loretta Ross, co-founder of the reproductive justice movement.
One of the people there was Kenda Sutton-El, who serves as the executive director of Birth in Color RVA in Richmond, Virginia.
“They’re so focused on abortion but they’re all reproductive rights and reproductive health clinics,” said Sutton-El.
She said limiting access to abortion clinics will have a direct impact on Black women’s health care.
“People go there for pap smears, people go there for contraception, for birth control, they go there for checkups in general,” said Sutton-El. “We think about the clinics that are providing that care, we can’t just think of them as abortion clinics.”
CDC data shows that Black women are nearly three times more likely to die during or after childbirth than white women.
But if abortions are mostly banned, researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder predict those deaths could jump by 33% among Black women.
But even if they survive, Sutton-El says the price to pay is high.
“Like I know I can’t afford this baby, I can’t afford to take care of the ones that I do have but you want to also look at what social services provide and take that away from them too.”
Another study from the University of California, San Francisco shows that regardless of race, women who were denied an abortion experienced an increase in poverty, evictions, and bankruptcies.
But anti-abortion rights groups say there are resources available.
“When women are pregnant and scared or have young children and can’t pay their bills or provide for their basic needs they contact us,” said Kelly Lester, director of outreach for ProLove Ministries.
Lester knows this personally. She has had four abortions and even worked at an abortion clinic before shifting her perspective and joining ProLove Ministries.
“Women deserve better, and as a woman who has had abortions, I can tell you that I deserved better and we need to continue to fight for these women,” said Lester. “Women are better than abortion and women of color are for sure better than abortion too and to say that is the best we have for them is really doing a disservice to them.”
One resource is The Family Foundation. We asked them about outreach efforts, specifically for Black and brown women.
“Often times people will go to their family, friends and where they gather support and sometimes it’s a faith-based community so making sure those are ready to step in immediately with the resources,” Victoria Cobb, president of The Family Foundation of Virginia.
With several states within the South and MidWest planning to ban abortion quickly if Roe v. Wade is overturned, both sides are preparing to reach out to minority women in the weeks ahead.
“If we can support her, if we can encourage her, if we can provide resources for her, then she will choose life,” said Lester.
“No one should be able to take your voice away from you, no matter what choice you decide to make,” said Sutton-El.
A recent Pew Research Center poll shows 61% of Americans say abortion should be legal all or most of the time, while about 37% say it should be illegal.
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