'We are not surprised': Women of color say the courts have never served their communities

Civil and reproductive rights groups say the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is yet another attack on communities of color which will leave millions of Black and brown women without access to abortion care.

Since the ruling became public Friday, leaders of Black, Latino, Asian American and Native American groups have condemned the court’s decision. Their communities would be among the hardest hit by abortion restrictions, leaders say, due to myriad issues, including existing health care access disparities, financial hardship and a long history of criminalization.
“We are not surprised. The courts have never served our communities,” said Lupe M. Rodríguez, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice. “Once again, the Supreme Court has gone against the will of the people.”
      Their comments came as protests erupted across the country and several states prepared to quickly implement their abortion “trigger” laws, created to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade fell.
        In many states, Black and Latino women receive abortions at higher rates than White women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which collects data from state health agencies.
          The overturning of Roe v. Wade underscores the economic hardships and maternal health crisis Black and brown women face, with many advocates saying forced pregnancies would only worsen their outcomes. For example, Black women are three times more likely than White women to die of pregnancy-related complications. Abortion rights leaders also worry poor Black and Latino women will not have the money to travel out of state for an abortion.

          Poor women of all races are impacted

          The Guttmacher Institute, a research group supporting abortion rights, says poor or low-income woman represent 75% of abortion patients.
          CNN senior political analyst Nia-Malika Henderson said one of the main reasons why women choose to get an abortion is because they cannot support a child financially.
          As abortion rights are determined by each state, the question is whether state officials will expand the social safety net for women who are forced to carry their babies to term.
          “They will have to get all sorts of medical care. Will there be paid family leave at these jobs? We know this is going to fall disproportionately on women who are poor of all races; White, Black, Latino, Asian,” Henderson said. “They can’t afford to go to another state where they can get an abortion.”
          Isra Pananon Weeks, interim executive director and chief of staff of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, said many Asian American and Pacific Islander women work in low-wage, front-line service jobs with no health insurance or paid medical leave.
          Abortion care is “riddled with language barriers, cultural stigmas, and low rates of insurance coverage among our most vulnerable community members” and traveling and getting an abortion was already “difficult if not impossible,” Weeks said.
          “Gutting Roe cuts off access to abortion care and puts the well-being and financial stability for millions of AAPI women and families at tremendous risk,” Weeks said.

          ‘We need to fight back’

          Black-led social justice groups said the gutting of Roe v. Wade is just the latest example of lawmakers stripping their rights.
          The NAACP released a statement with one leader saying the Supreme Court decision sets the country back to a “dangerous era where basic constitutional rights only exist for a select few.”
          Portia White, policy and legislative affairs vice president for the NAACP, likened the abortion ruling to lawmakers suppressing the Black vote.
          “They’ve stripped away our right to vote, and now women have lost their right to their own body. What’s next?” White said. “We cannot allow our future to rest in the hands of those determined to crush every bit of it. We need to fight back.”
          White said the NAACP will be mobilizing voters for the “most critical midterm election America has ever faced” in November.
          Movement for Black Lives leaders said the Supreme Court move is “another affront to Black lives in this country with those in power continuously proving that they do not care about the health and well-being of Black people.”
          “As a Black liberation movement guided by Black feminist values and a commitment to abolition, we see the fall of Roe for what it is: another avenue for the state to criminalize, surveil and harm the most vulnerable among us,” the group said in a statement.
          Reproductive rights advocates from the Latino community also rejected the decision.
          UnidosUS president Janet Murguía said the Latino community already knows what it feels like to have their rights taken away and have ordinary activity criminalized. Murguía said advocates are concerned abortion bans will make poor women and women of color more vulnerable to being prosecuted and penalized.
          “As a civil rights organization, we believe we must side with protecting women’s rights, and not with a process that eviscerates them,” she said. “A majority of women — and a majority of Latinas — want the freedom to make their own decisions regarding their health and well-being, and believe these decisions should be a private matter between them and their health care provider.”
          The Native American community will also suffer without abortion access, advocates say.
            Crystal Echo Hawk, founder and executive director of IllumiNative, said Native American women and girls will face an increase in violence because they may be forced to stay in a bad relationship with an abusive partner or trafficker if they are pregnant.
            “Reproductive rights and systemic violence are intrinsically linked, and Black, Indigenous, and people of color women, transgender, nonbinary and Two-Spirit persons already face some of the highest rates of sexual violence and maternal death,” Echo Hawk said. “Access to abortion and reproductive care is foundational to safety and well-being. This is a matter of life or death for many in Native communities.”

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