Anti-abortion laws reveal more disparities for Black women
By ROBYN H. JIMENEZ The Dallas Examiner Roe v. Wade was overturned Friday by the Supreme Court of the United States. As new traveled, millions of Americans across the U.S. seem to be shocked, but [...] The post Anti-abortion laws reveal more disparities for Black women appeared first on Dallas Examiner.
By ROBYN H. JIMENEZ
The Dallas Examiner
Roe v. Wade was overturned Friday by the Supreme Court of the United States. As new traveled, millions of Americans across the U.S. seem to be shocked, but not surprised. Many Americans were forewarned when Justice Samuel Alito’s draft of the opinion was leaked and obtained by Politico and printed May 2, then broadcast by many media outlets across the country. Throughout the day, several groups and individuals have reiterated that they were not surprised, though they were very disappointed and extremely angry.
“As a mother, I’m hurt and disappointed by today’s Supreme Court decision stripping away a person’s constitutional right to seek an abortion. This will have profound implications for the basic rights of all citizens and lays bare the political nature of the current U.S. Supreme Court,” Aunna Dennis, executive director for Common Cause Georgia, wrote in a statement to the media. “This is the latest in a series of decisions that elevate the rights of politicians, corporations and those in power over reproductive rights, the rights of people of color and ordinary voters.”
Friday’s landmark decision, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, has overruled the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, as well as the 1992 Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey decision, which upheld Roe v. Wade but altered its restrictions.
The case was argued Dec. 1, 2021. The case came out of Mississippi where a doctor from Jaxon women’s health organization challenged Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, which made it illegal to perform an abortion if the fetus’ probable gestation age was determined to be more than 15 weeks, except during a medical emergency, according to the court’s documents.
In its decision, the Court stated, “Before this Court, petitioners defend the act on the grounds that Roe and Casey were wrongly decided and that the act is constitutional because it satisfies rational-basis review.” It held that “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.”
The decision passed 6-3, with justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissenting.
“Make no mistake: This decision is the culmination of a deliberate effort over decades to upset the balance of our law. It’s a realization of an extreme ideology and a tragic error by the Supreme Court, in my view,” President Joe Biden said during a televised press conference. “The Court has done what it has never done before: expressly take away a constitutional right that is so fundamental to so many Americans that had already been recognized.
“The Court’s decision to do so will have real and immediate consequences. State laws banning abortion are automatically taking effect today, jeopardizing the health of millions of women, some without exceptions.”
Abortions are set to be banned in 26 states. Texas, along with 12 other states, have “trigger laws” in place. The anti-abortion law will go into effect 30 days from the day of the Supreme Court decision. The law is meant to penalize anyone performing the abortions. The penalty could be one to five years in prison.
Many women’s health clinics immediately stopped performing abortions and many abortion clinics had closed their doors as they waited to hear from their legal counsel.
On Tuesday, a Harris County District Court judge granted a two-week restraining order to allow abortions up to six weeks. The case will be heard on July 12, according to Courthouse News Service.
Sexual assault victims
The Texas anti-abortion law will allow for exceptions when the mother’s health is in jeopardy due to the pregnancy. However, it stated that it does not allow an exception for women or teens who became pregnant as a result of rape or incest.
Almost 3 million women across the country have become pregnant as a result of rape – at some point in their lives between the age 12 and up. Of those women, 20% reported that their partner intentionally got them pregnant. Approximately 5.2% of the women were raped by an acquaintance and 6.9% were raped by a stranger, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Moreover, Black women are raped at a higher rate than other ethnicities, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Each year, 35,000 to 57,000 girls between the ages of 12 and 17 reported experiencing child sexual abuse. However, since a large percentage of child abuse goes unreported, the number could be much higher. At least 34% of the predators are family members, while 59% are acquaintances and 7% are strangers. As a result, 1% to 5% of them become pregnant, according to Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
Moreover, many victims may not even realize that they are pregnant until their second trimester.
In a study conducted by the National Institute of Health, a woman who had experienced birth during her childhood as a result of child sexual abuse, stated that she felt like she “was being abused all over again.” It also revealed that when a child or teen endures a pregnancy and delivery due to molestation, it exacerbates her trauma, resulting in elevated episodes of depression and PTSD. Self-esteem and self-care are also significantly diminished.
Most women and teens of sexual assault who experience pregnancy and delivery due to changes in the law tend to neglect their care, including doctors’ visits, and will need psychological counseling during pregnancy, post-partum, and possibly on going, according to the CDC.
Disparities among Black women
Since the announcement, some pro-life supporters have enthusiastically praised the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
“For 49 years, ‘we the people’ have had to endure a flawed and unconstitutional ruling from the Supreme Court that allowed unelected judges to create a national right to abortion that ultimately led to extreme actions, like late-term abortions, against the unborn.” said Dr. Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and chairman of the Center for the American Dream at America First Policy Institute, during a podcast. “Today, the Supreme Court has rightfully overturned that decision, sending the power to regulate abortion back to the elected officials at the state level. I have longed for and prayed for this day. And I will continue to fight for human dignity for everyone – from the womb to the tomb.”
However, they seemed to be outnumbered by many others who immediately condemned the decision. Several medical, civil rights and women’s rights groups flooded the streets in a nationwide response, while many others released strongly worded statements to the media.
Representing the American Civil Liberties Union – the group who was actively involved in the push to pass Roe v. Wade – Senior Policy Counsel Jessica Arons conveyed concerns regarding women’s health, especially that of Black women because they have continued to face high rates of mortality during pregnancy.
“Today’s ruling will also have deadly consequences, with the harm falling hardest on Black women and other people of color who already face a maternal mortality crisis that is most severe in the same states that are determined to ban abortion,” Arons expressed. “In fact, Black women are three times more likely than White women to die during childbirth or shortly thereafter. If abortion is banned nationwide, pregnancy-related deaths are estimated to increase by 21% nationwide, and 33% among Black women.”
Furthermore, the likelihood of complications increases as they age. There were 293 maternal deaths nationwide in 2020. These rates increase each year. Texas has the eighth-highest maternal mortality rate in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Black women have fought and died for the freedom to control our bodies and our lives, from slavery to segregation to the Supreme Court, yet today in an unprecedented move the Court stripped us of that basic freedom by overturning Roe v. Wade,” representatives of The Black Women’s Leadership Collective wrote. “As half of the states in the country will now move to immediately ban abortion on top of extreme laws that criminalize women and doctors, we know that Black women, low-income women and other women of color who already face significant barriers to health care will be the most directly harmed.”
The group was particularly concerned about how states with large Black populations will be impacted immediately by severely limiting or banning access to abortion care.
The fight continues
“This decision is devastating. Black women are standing together to make clear that we will not go back to a time when politicians controlled our bodies and our most personal health decisions,” the BWLC stated. “Reproductive freedom and the fundamental right to control our bodies are on the ballot in November, along with protecting our right to vote and the health and safety of our communities. We are organizing, mobilizing and leveraging our collective power in support of candidates who support our rights and will fight for the needs of our communities.”
Lawmakers and women’s health groups have announced measures to ensure that women, especially those in underserved communities, have better access to contraceptives, as well as prenatal and postpartum health care.
County Judge Clay Jenkin announced Friday that he would have a package would provide a list of resources to obtain affordable contraceptive counseling and contraceptive care, during the next Commissioners Court meeting. The Court has partnered with Trust Her and Parkland WISH Clinics to provide low cost and no cost contraceptive care. They are currently working on making mobile clinics available.
Additionally, Texas Democrats have vowed to work diligently for “women to have control over their own bodies” and restore abortion rights.
Jenkins expressed fury over the decision and urged citizens to register and vote for candidates that would help fight the anti-abortion law on a local level.
“We are acting right now in Dallas County, and we won’t stop acting, to do what we can do to protect women’s health, because we stand with women,” Jenkins said.
“Get out and vote. Replace Greg Abbott with Beto O’Rourke. Replace the clowns in Austin who have done this to you with the trigger law with people who care about you, care about women, care about children. Get out and vote.”
State Sen. Royce West wrote in a statement to the media that for several years he has championed a woman’s right to make her own health choices and would continue to do so.
“In the coming Legislative Session, I will do everything possible to fight for Texas women and their reproductive rights,” he expressed. “I will continue to analyze today’s decision to determine the best legislative path forward to help Texas women. Those who believe in a woman’s right to choose will need to become more actively involved by voting to send others to Austin to help me in this fight.
“An attack on women’s rights today, will result in attacks on the rights of others tomorrow.”
There has also been a nationwide push against the Supreme Court’s decision.
“Friday’s Supreme Court decision was despicable, but it was also predictable. HHS has been preparing for this for some time,” U.S. Secretary Xavier Becerra declared during a press conference Tuesday. “That’s why, earlier this year, we launched our HHS Reproductive Access Task Force to plan for every action necessary to protect women’s access to reproductive health care.
“There is no magic bullet. But if there is something we can do, we will find it and we will do it at HHS. Indeed, that was the instruction I received from the president of the United States.”
He went on to say that Biden announced actions to ensure medical abortions will be “available to the fullest extent possible” and that women could travel safely to areas where abortions were still legal.
“[T]his decision must not be the final word,” Biden concluded. “My administration will use all of its appropriate lawful powers. But Congress must act. And with your vote, you can act. You can have the final word. This is not over.”
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