The fight for women’s reproductive rights continues as states across the nation work fast to sign laws that will restrict or potentially ban abortion. Black and Brown women could feel the brunt of the storm, as abortion rates tend to be higher for the groups in comparison to white women.
Data published by the CDC in 2018 found that abortion rates among Black women were 3.4 times higher than white women. The report reflected a similar trend among Hispanic women, with abortion rates soaring to 1.7 times higher than that of their white female counterparts. Researchers believe that the numbers could reflect socio-economic issues like financial barriers that prevent women of color from affording effective contraception such as condoms or birth control prescriptions. 92 percent of abortions are performed within the first 13 weeks.
Life also presents a number of challenges for women. The Guttmacher Institute wrote in their 2015 report that “relationship changes, moving or personal crises” can also impact a women’s decision to continue or refrain from taking preventative pregnancy measures. Some women have cultural and linguistic barriers that could impact their decision to use contraception.
One thing rings loud and clear, there’s a war on reproductive rights happening right in front of our eyes. On Sept. 1, 2021, women in Texas protested after Senate Bill 8, commonly known as the six-week abortion ban, was enacted. The strict measure now gives private citizens the right to sue anyone who assists a woman seeking to have an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. The stringent bill also allows for an individual to sue an abortion facility and even healthcare officials who attempt to perform the procedure.
Similarly, in Mississippi, Republican lawmakers are fighting tooth and nail with the Supreme Court to keep the state’s 15-week abortion law that would totally ban abortions for all women after 15-weeks of pregnancy. Mississippi’s Republican-led legislature briefly enacted the law in 2018, but it never went into effect because the federal appellate court blocked it from being enforced. Lawyers representing the state argue that the Constitution doesn’t support abortion and that it’s “egregiously wrong,” The New York Times noted. This will now force the Supreme Court to consider whether to peel back or completely overturn the historic 1973 ruling of Roe Vs. Wade that gave women the constitutional right to have an abortion. Mississippi argues that the rule doesn’t take into account the state’s right to regulate the procedure.
Women of color living in states with strict abortion laws are now turning to the abortion pill as an alternative but soon the loophole could be closed. Back in December, Texas-based a tough law called SB 4, that could penalize medical facilities that prescribe abortion pills by mail or telehealth. Culprits could face up to $10,000 in fines or possible jail time. The strict law also “narrows the legal window for medication abortion to the first seven weeks of pregnancy,” according to KHN.
Abortion pills, which were approved by the FDA in 2000, require a pregnant individual to take two pills 48 hours apart. The medication disrupts the hormones, effectively terminating the pregnancy. The procedure can be done up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy and women often prefer the procedure because it can be done from home. Some women living in abortion-restricted states were obtaining the pill and traveling to states where undergoing the procedure is legal, but lawmakers are working fast to stop this.
Missouri for example is casting a wider net on abortion restrictions that would prohibit residents from receiving the procedure in legal states. Pro-abortion activists condemned the move, arguing that women should have the right to make their own reproductive decisions, they also fear that the tough measure could force women to resort to harmful and illegal abortion methods.
Some states are not even providing leniency for victims of rape under their controversial abortion policy plans. On April 5, Oklahoma lawmakers approved a Republican bill that would make performing an abortion illegal and even punishable by up to 10 years in state prison. The pending legislation, which is called Senate Bill 612, would not make exceptions in cases of rape and incest, but a woman would not be criminally charged or convicted for the death of her “unborn child, ” CNN reported.
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