Black Women & Bodily Autonomy

The May edition of Essence magazine takes a look at what’s at stake for African-American women in the battle over reproductive rights. With extremist politicians passing an inordinate number of laws that target providers of abortion services, according to the magazine, Black women are among those paying the consequences.

Safe and legal abortions are under attack, and Black women—who seek out family planning services at a rate four times higher than White women—may face greater limitations in getting the procedure.

“Whether a woman has a job, access to health care or the ability to take care of a family are all huge parts of her decision to have an abortion,” says Monica Simpson, the executive director of SisterSong, a reproductive justice organization in Atlanta. The barrage of recent antiabortion laws only compounds the difficulty in maintaining control of our bodies.

Essence points to the recent health crisis in Texas where a number of clinics have been forced to close down following the passage of a set of radical abortion restrictions, and dozens more are likely to meet the same fate in the coming months. By the fall, Texas may have fewer than 10 clinics providing abortion services for 13 million women across the state.

Last summer, the Texas state government passed legislation requiring abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges to local hospitals—a requirement which serves no medical purpose, and gives hospitals, including those run by administrations with anti-choice leanings, the power to decide whether abortion is available at all in certain communities, and parts of the state.

In addition, the legislature passed a law that imposes unnecessary physical building requirements on abortion providers. Again, the requirements simply target reproductive health facilities with ridiculous renovations that have nothing to do with promoting health and safety. Instead they are so cost-prohibitive, a number of clinics will have to close entirely.