Sorority and fraternity members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inc., commonly known as the Divine 9, an international coalition of Black Greek organizations, are coming together to protect the rights of Black women following the historic overturning of Roe v. Wade.
On Wednesday, the influential organization launched the “Tell Somebody” campaign, a public service initiative calling on people to push lawmakers to re-establish the right to abortion previously protected by Roe. Members of the Divine 9 believe that Black women will be disproportionately impacted by the harsh decision due to the maternal health crisis plaguing the community. The staunch initiative was spearheaded by the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc, a subset of the National Pan-Hellenic Council.
“Overturning Roe v. Wade will not end abortion. It will only end safe abortions and access to healthcare for millions of women—particularly poor women of color—and fuel a full-fledged public health crisis in this country,” Chris V. Rey, J.D., President of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., said in a press release emailed to NewsOne. “We’re calling on the 2.5 million members of the Divine 9 to contact lawmakers to mitigate the impact of this egregious blow to the well-being of 10 million Black women of childbearing age.”
Divine 9 release “Tell Somebody” PSA Video
On Wednesday, the Divine 9 shared a one-minute-long campaign video, narrated by “Black-ish” star Jenifer Lewis, that detailed some of the difficult circumstances that often lead Black women to seek abortion care. According to data found by the institution, nearly half of Black women in the United States experience sexual coercion. One in four will experience sexual abuse by the age of 18, while 35 percent will experience some form of sexual violence within their lifetime. Black women are also three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than their white peers. The mortality rate among Black mothers is expected to increase by 33 percent in the wake of the repeal.
The organization hopes to empower the Black community to counteract the potentially disastrous effects of the repeal by urging Americans to contact Congress and vote come November in the midterm elections.
“This is a call to action. Lives are on the line—the lives of those with the least access to medical, financial and social resources. The measure of a nation is how it treats its most vulnerable,” said veteran broadcaster Sybil Wilkes, who was one of the producers behind the powerful campaign video. “It’s time to stand up together for those who cannot stand up for themselves.”
The Reproductive Freedom For All Act could protect women’s abortion rights
In August, some politicians showed bipartisan support for The Reproductive Freedom For All Act, a law that would protect women’s rights to abortion and contraception access if passed, but the Senate’s filibuster rule could block the bill from moving forward. The organization hopes that viewers will contact their local lawmakers to relax filibuster rules so that Congress can pass the vital bill to protect women’s reproductive healthcare rights.
According to the CDC, the U.S. saw a shocking uptick in mortality deaths during childbirth for Black women in 2020. The report also found that maternal mortality rates appeared to increase with age. There were “13.8 deaths per 100,000 live births for women under age 25, 22.8 for those aged 25–39, and 107.9 for those aged 40 and over,” the agency revealed.
Bleeding and hemorrhaging from C-sections are one of the leading causes of childbearing-related deaths in the U.S. Black women undergo the risky delivery procedure at a rate 35. 9 percent higher compared to white women, according to Open Democracy.
“Creating medically unnecessary barriers to abortion only makes it harder for people to get the health care they need and deeply affects communities that already face challenges within the health care system — communities like ours,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “Despite the darkness, we are living through, we must remember that we have the power to make a difference. As a member of a Divine 9 sorority, I know there is power in our stories and strength in our voices as we continue to push for freedom.”