Abortion rights are about human rights, not politics

Everyone should have the freedom to make personal decisions with those they love and trust, especially when it comes to reproductive health care, without interference from politicians. Abortion rights – guaranteed nationwide since 1973 in landmark Supreme Court ruling Roe vs. Wade decision – are now threatened by new cases in the High Court, putting the reproductive freedom of all women and girls at risk.

Abortion restrictions hurt everyone, but black Americans would be hit especially hard by new abortion restrictions or outright bans that the conservative Supreme Court majority may allow states to impose later this year. . It’s because of the many inequalities that continue to unfairly penalize our black population after hundreds of years of systemic racism.

Black people on average have lower incomes and less access to affordable health care than other groups and, therefore, are particularly affected by restrictions that further limit accessibility to reproductive health care, including abortion.

States could always choose to authorize abortions even if the right to terminate a pregnancy which was recognized in Roe vs. Wade is severely restricted or removed by the Supreme Court. But states could also choose to limit abortions to the first few weeks of pregnancy — before many women even realize they are pregnant — and impose other restrictions, perhaps even banning abortions altogether.

Congress can’t tell the Supreme Court what to do, but lawmakers can pass laws to protect Americans’ rights in many areas, including the right to decide their future.

A law protecting the right to abortion is urgently needed today.

The House of Representatives passed the Women’s Health Protection Act last September to preserve the right to abortion. However, the bill is stalled in the Senate, where opposition from Republicans and a few Democrats makes securing the 60-vote supermajority needed to overcome the filibuster rule a difficult proposition.

The legislation is needed not only in anticipation of a possible new Supreme Court ruling against abortion rights, but to overturn nearly 500 state laws that have been passed since 2011 to restrict the right to choose an abortion. .

These laws have forced many clinics offering abortion care to close, leaving 90% of US counties without any abortion providers and five states with only one abortion clinic. Some laws prohibit abortion so early in pregnancy — around six weeks in Texas, for example — that it’s nearly impossible for women to learn they’re pregnant and schedule an abortion in time.

The Women’s Health Protection Act would give people across the country the right to have an abortion without medically unnecessary restrictions and uphold the right of medical professionals to provide abortion services without fear of lawsuit or prosecution. . This would be a welcome guarantee of reproductive autonomy for all.

Protesters hold signs as they rally in support of Planned Parenthood.
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

It is important to understand that banning or severely restricting abortions has never and will never end abortions. People with the financial means can simply travel to other states to have an abortion if their home state does not offer the procedure.

At the same time, pregnant women with low incomes, parental responsibilities or jobs they can’t leave for days – who are disproportionately black – are forced to turn to illegal and unsafe abortion providers when safe and legal abortions become unavailable. These people sometimes suffer serious injuries and even death as a result of illegal abortions. The Women’s Reproductive Health Act gives individuals the right to choose to have an abortion if they wish. It is high time we recognized this ability to control one’s own reproductive destiny as a basic human right.

During the era of slavery, enslaved African Americans were denied all human rights. Black women and girls were often raped and beaten and forced to give birth to children who would become slaves themselves. Children were cruelly taken from their mothers to be sold as property.

For generations, black women have been leaders in the struggle for human rights and justice. As we move from Black History Month to Women’s History Month, it’s time to reflect on the accomplishments and courage of these women.

To cite just one example: the late Rep. Shirley Chisholm (DN.Y.), who in 1968 was elected as the first black woman to serve in Congress and in 1972 became the first to seek a major party nomination for president, sponsored abortion rights legislation in the House. She was also Honorary Co-Chair of the National Abortion Rights Action League (now known as NARAL) and co-founded the National Organization for Women.

In 1994, a group of black women calling themselves African Descent Women for Reproductive Justice released a groundbreaking statement that became the backbone of the reproductive justice movement. Reproductive justice – defined by SisterSong as “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, to have children, to be childless, and to raise the children we have in safe and sustainable communities” – grew out of the lived experiences of black women in this country.

Today, black women lead important reproductive rights organizations, including Planned Parenthood, the National Women’s Law Center, Power to Decide, Physicians for Reproductive Health, and the Guttmacher Institute, and continue to lead the fight for health. reproduction and access to abortion. And we may soon see the first black woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court. It couldn’t come at a more crucial time.

We should heed the call of these leaders that depriving women of the reproductive freedom achieved in 1973 would be a grave injustice. Politicians should look for ways to ensure access for all and to make promises of deer a reality for everyone, without trying to go back. And politicians need to understand that going back would outrage millions of women and men and likely inspire them to support pro-choice candidates in this year’s election.

In every state in the country, both Republicans and Democrats need abortions. Supporting the bodily autonomy of women and girls should be a matter of freedom and human rights, not politics. There is no justification for an elected official to oppose the law on the protection of women’s health.

Donna Brazil is a ABC News collaborator, seasoned political strategist, adjunct professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at Georgetown University, and King Professor of Public Policy at Howard University. She previously served as interim chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the DNCs Voting Rights Institute. She is the author of several booksincluding The New York Times‘Bestseller Hacks: The inside story of the burglaries and breakdowns that put Donald Trump in the White House. His Twitter is @DonnaBrazile.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee is co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, member of the House Appropriations Committee and chair of the Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. She is co-chair of the steering and policy committee, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and chair emeritus of the Progressive Caucus. She is also the chair of the Majority Leader’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity. As a member of the House Democratic leadership, she is the highest ranked African-American woman in the United States Congress.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors.


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