Hours before Roe v. Wade was overturned and federal abortion rights were obliterated by the United States Supreme Court, 20 Black congresswomen urged President Joe Biden to declare a national public health crisis regarding abortion rights and reproductive justice.
In an open letter published in USA Today, the female lawmakers, all Democrats in the House of Representatives and all members of the Congressional Black Caucus, asked Biden “to use any and all executive authorities to address the public health crisis our nation will face if Roe v. Wade is dismantled.”
Less than five hours after the women went public with their letter, their worst fears came true. On Friday the Supreme Court struck down the landmark case that guaranteed the right to abortion on a federal level.
With the end of Roe, trigger laws in several conservative-majority states have been enacted, banning abortion outright. Black women will be disproportionately affected by these bans, the letter stated. The congresswomen also laid out the history of discrimination faced by Black women and people who can become pregnant, and barriers to care put in place by long-established bias in the medical and health care systems.
According to the letter, nearly two thirds of Black women view abortion care as essential care, and 81% of Black women want abortion to be easily accessible within their communities.
“A harrowing study estimates that banning abortion across the United States would result in an estimated 21% increase in maternal deaths across all races, and a 33% increase in maternal deaths among Black individuals,” the collective, led by Representative Ayanna Pressley, wrote. “Forcing individuals to carry an unwanted pregnancy has been shown to put their physical and mental health at risk as well.”
You can read the full letter on USA Today.
In the meantime, here’s how to stay focused in the fight for reproductive justice and abortion rights.
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