By now, we’ve all heard about the leaked opinion draft from the Supreme Court where it seems that they will vote to overturn Roe V. Wade, which gives everyone the right to have an abortion if they so choose. I know that abortion is a very sensitive topic, and I know that many Christians are vehemently against it. I also know that as a Black woman, my right to reproductive choices and safety protect not only my life, but my future.
Over the past 50-60 years, women have been able to make strides in the workplace in large part because of the access to birth control. It has allowed them to start a family on their own terms, as well as allowing many women the necessary help to go to work while they are on their period. In conjunction, with that decision, is also the choice to terminate a pregnancy if the time is not right for them. Having a child is a deeply personal and emotional choice that no one should be forced to make until they know with certainty that they can provide and care for a child. Having a child is expensive, and America offers no universal healthcare, no paid family leave, no universal child care, no free birth control, and even if you do have insurance you can be hit with bills totaling thousands of dollars. We offer no solutions for the women who we are forcing to have children. There is no discussion of a safety net for how these women will be supported financially, how they will be able to work, and how we will help the children who grow up in these circumstances. So, the real argument is then what are we fighting for?
The answer to that question is control. In the grand scheme of things, we have far bigger and more pressing issues to address than something that was decided 50 years ago. But for some reason we are still harping on abortion rights. Conservatives argue that it is to protect life, but many conservative states support the death penalty. It’s ok to play God if you feel justified in your actions. Many states have abortion laws in place that don’t even allow for the termination of a pregnancy in the case of rape or incest. Which means that a woman who has been violated will now have to carry her violators child to term. We care less about how a woman feels within her body than we do about a man who has committed a vicious crime. Again, it has nothing to do with life, but it is about forcing women to have children.
As a Black woman, I cannot stand by and say nothing because I know that it will be my people who suffer. Being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy, means that you are 4x more likely to live below the poverty line. Six times more likely to receive public assistance, and 3x less likely to have a full-time job. What is happening is that we are forcing people to be even more poor than they already are. The Supreme Court’s ruling is making sure that the wealth gap widens, and that it will be Black and Brown people who are left even more behind.
America has the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed nation in the world. Black women have the highest maternal mortality rate in this country. To put the rate of abortions in this country into context, in 2019 there were 629,898 legal induced abortions per the CDC. There were 3,745,540 births in the same year. The way we talk about abortions you would think those numbers would be reversed. I know many people oppose abortions and that is their right to feel that way. But I do not have the right to force my opinion on someone else. What someone chooses to do with their own body in relation to themselves, not anyone else, is their business and it is their right to have autonomy over those choices.