Roe and Black Women: 40 Years Later
Today, we mark the 40th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision which set the standard for safe, legalized abortion. Yet for the past 40 years, we have seen continuous and virulent attacks on the fundamental right for women to make a very personal decision--to choose whether or not to have an abortion. Although that right continues to be debated in Congress and state capitols across the nation, we know that for Black women, access to safe abortion is paramount. But access to abortion services is only a part of our story. The story that also needs to be told is how the road to Roe was paved by Black women’s bodies and by generations of Black women activists who continue today to challenge abortion restrictions.
Yesterday, we commemorated the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and watched as history unfolded with the second inauguration of President Obama. Both, in their own way, have left an indelible mark on the nation’s landscape. President Obama’s landmark health care reform will transform the way in which women and people of color gain access to health care, including abortion services.
Yet as we have made great strides in basic civil rights that led to Obama's election, we have also seen a corrosion of basic rights for women's reproductive health choices. In fact, in 2012 with 43 provisions in 19 states, we have seen the highest number of restrictions on reproductive rights ever. That is why we must continue to speak out and work to ensure that all women have the right to a safe and legal abortion, when necessary.
We urge President Obama, on this day, to commit to ensuring access to safe abortion services, to increasing access for all women to preventive health care services without additional cost-sharing, and to expanding Medicaid coverage so that more low-income women have the health care they need. We, too, at the Imperative will recommit to a reproductive justice agenda for Black women that goes beyond Roe. Doing so will go far in trusting Black women to make the right decisions for our bodies and our families.