More than the 48th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, state legislators and advocates for reproductive rights, health, and justice stress the importance of seeing these issues as connected to larger struggles for social justice.
“On this anniversary, we must commit to continuing the fight for something more — a vision of reproductive justice that affirms the lives of Black people everywhere,” said Monica Simpson, executive director of Sistersong, in an email statement. Simpson reflected on the police killings of Black people like Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd and the radical imagination necessary to build a vision of the future beyond systemic violence and oppression.
“In order to create safe and sustainable communities where people can live healthy lives, we need to trust in the leadership of Black women,” said Simpson.
Despite attacks on the right to abortion, advocates point out that it is still legal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. But being legal alone is not enough to protect access.
“I’m constantly reminded that meaningful abortion access is not a reality for many folks in Black communities across this country and around the world,” Chris Love, the Board Chair of Planned Parenthood Advocates Arizona, said in a recent conversation with NewsOne. “We should celebrate that Roe is still the law of the land, but we have so much further to go to ensure that all people who can become pregnant have the ability to make their own autonomous and informed reproductive choices.”
With a new administration and a changing of the guard in Congress, some see a new opportunity to address the limitations of Roe and barriers such as the Hyde Amendment and the global gag rule which keep people from fully accessing abortions and repoductive health. President Joe Biden is set to reverse the Mexico City Policy that was reinstated and expanded by his predecessor. Also known as the global gag rule, the Mexico City Policy is seen as a limitation on the ability of providers to support women’s health abroad.
“The Hyde Amendment is, at its base, a racist policy that violates the most basic human right to decide whether or when to have children,” said Marcela Howell in a statement. Founder and president of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, Howell says that the Hyde Amendment is a threat to the economic security of those denied abortion access.
“We must ensure that all pregnant people have access to both abortion care and the resources to make reproductive health decisions – including the decision to have and raise our families with dignity – regardless of income, geography and insurance coverage,” Howell said.
Echoing Howell’s sentiments, Laurie Bertram Roberts said that laws without access were meaningless. “For most people in a large swath of the country, it’s as if Roe doesn’t exist,” said Roberts in conversation with NewsOne. As the executive director of the Yellow Hammer Fund, an Alabama based abortion fund, Roberts understands the struggle of people in southern communities struggling to access abortion services.
Roberts also called for an expansion of Medicaid expansion in southern states and eventually medicare for all to provide for all of a person’s health care needs. But Roe simply establishes a right Roberts says: “We know that abortion has been already recognized as a human right and really the thing that we could do the most to help abortion rights in America is to bring our laws in line with that belief.”