Black media is staying on top of informing the community about the stakes in a post-Roe world. Deja Perez with MAJIC 102.3/92.7 FM recently hosted a conversation with reproductive justice advocates “In Our Own Voice- Post Roe: Now What for Black Women?”
After the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, states across the country have moved quickly to ban abortion and, in some places, have proposed additional restrictions on people’s access to care. But Black women leaders understand the importance of gender-affirming reproductive care, including abortion and contraceptive care, that helps people make decisions for their individual health and wellbeing.
Perez spoke with a panel of reproductive justice experts Marcela Howell, President & CEO In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, Abortion Care Network’s Deputy Director Erin Grant and Kwajelyn J. Jackson, executive director of Feminist Women’s Health Center. The panel put the need for electoral participation in the context of the current moment and shared insights into how people can get involved at the local and state level to protect abortion access and reproductive health.
Note: This transcript excerpt has been lightly edited for clarity. The copy may not be in its final form. Click here for the full transcript.
Deja Perez: So let’s get started. And I will try to figure out everything else on the back end while we get this conversation started. But many of us are still trying to fully understand the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 50-year-old case that, of course, gave women and birthing people the constitutional right to choose to have an abortion. Can each of you tell us how your organizations are helping black women and women of color help navigate a post-Roe environment? Marsala? Can we start with you?
Howell: Sure, sure. Deja. Our organization in our own voice is an advocacy organization. So we work with the public, and we work with policymakers to change policy. So one of the things that you know, once this decision came out, we kind of knew what it was going to be because it was leaked, and which is very unusual for the Supreme Court, was leaked a good month before they actually put the final decision out. So we started talking to people, right, then we started meeting with state organizations, really talking to them about what was going on in their state. We did you know, we’ve worked with other organizations to do an analysis of what the state laws would look like. And I have to admit, they don’t look great. And we can talk about that a little bit later. But we looked at the state laws. But we also looked in states where it was possible to influence state laws. And we started working very consciously in those states to sort of shore up the right to abortion access a right to abortion service in those states. But we also started our campaign to vote for the midterm. I mean, the reality is that even though we have good people in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, we don’t have enough. So in the Senate, the Senate, any kind of laws we introduce there, and then there is a law that was introduced, that would essentially reverse what the Supreme Court did, would put it into national law that women and birthing people have the right the constitutional right to access abortion services if they choose to. That law was introduced. It was debated in the Senate, but it was blocked by Senate Republicans. And because the numbers do not work out. You know, there’s an even number of Democrats and Republicans. Any law that requires in the Senate a 60 vote to move forward is going to be stopped. Unless, of course, we get rid of the filibuster, which we also have been supporting. So there’s a lot of things going on. But that’s how our organization has been working. And I’ll talk later about the actual voting in the midterm elections.
Perez: Okay, um, Erin, can we hear your take on it?
Grant: Yeah, again, thank you so much for having me. abortion care network is where the organization that I’m coming from. And the truth of the matter is that our clinics in our networks have been deeply ingrained in this issue since 1973. abortion care network is the national network of independent abortion clinics, and community-based care, and community-based health care facilities providing abortion. And so our members, our clinic members, do provide the majority of care, I’m absolutely tickled to be here with one of our providers today. We have member clinics that are own run and overseen by black abortion experts by folks that are dedicated to their communities, dedicated to the movement, and also dedicated to the bodily autonomy that is a part of the dignity and the health rights and justice of black people in this country. We know a couple of things about serving black communities and reflecting on the Black community. It matters what our providers look like what the ownership of our clinics look like, and who is actually saying that this care is dignified and is yours for the taking in your community. There’s a deep mistrust of the medical community. And that’s for good reason and black and indigenous communities. And we are, you know, able to provide support to those leaders to those providers who are looking to really be at the forefront of rebuilding the health care needs and trust that is actually deserved by all people in this country. We work with our community-based clinics to keep their doors open. We really believe that these clinics and ensure reproductive health access education and availability within their community. And we know that that’s not available in every state. When clinics are open in the community, when there’s a physical space, we stop entertaining ideas like you should travel for pregnancy, wellness or reproductive health care, we stop telling people that they need to leave their own community because somebody in their community can’t provide it for them, or that their community is not a community of expertise. We also are a part of a full spectrum of reproductive health. We’re out here pushing newer midwives. We’re out here looking for better STI testing and results. We’re the ones that are also providing gender-affirming care and full spectrum, gender-affirming wellness. We do birth control, we do pap exams, we are doing hormone therapy, and again, gender-affirming care and abortion. So when we look at the intersectional lives of black people, and then we think about what that could be, or what that could look like the inside of a clinic, ACM is really proud to be at the forefront of some of these conversations. I also just want to say that in order for us to have this conversation about autonomy, it’s not just about representation, but it is about putting our dollars, our leadership and our best interests in the hands of the leaders in the medical professionals that are working under the conditions that this country has created since 1973. So that’s a little bit of ACN. I’m the Deputy Director, but I definitely am excited to be here with one of those providers and one of those national leaders.
Perez: And we’re so super excited to have you as well. I would like to hear now from Kwajelyn as well. Can you give me your take on this?
Jackson: Certainly, thank you so much Deja. My name is Kwajalyn Jackson and I’m the executive director of Feminist Women’s Health Center in Atlanta, Georgia. So we are a reproductive health rights and justice organization. We have been providing compassionate reproductive health care services out of our clinic since 1976. So very shortly after the original Roe vs Wade decision. We provide both medication and procedural abortion care up to the gestational limit in Georgia, which fortunately has not yet changed in response to the most recent Supreme Court decision. In addition to abortion care, we also do just as Erin mentioned, comprehensive gynecological care, gender-affirming trans health care, STI testing, contraceptive services, and referral services for other reproductive health care needs. And outside of our clinic, we do community engagement, civic engagement, leadership development, public policy. We’ll see and legislative advocacy work and sexual and reproductive health education in the community in Georgia, we are state-based. And so, most of our work is focused on trying to change the legal environment and shift the levers of political power in Georgia and working in partnership with organizations around the country to contribute to the movement around reproductive health rights and justice. So happy to be here and talk more about how this reality that we are navigating affects our communities.