05 May What Will Congress Do To Protect Black Women’s Right to Choose?
This is not a drill — the sky is falling. The conservative-controlled Supreme Court’s leaked draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade means millions of American women are poised to lose their right to choose to have a child. In part, Justice Alito’s opinion reads, “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled.” If this draft becomes the majority opinion’s ruling, it will be a dagger in the heart of women’s rights.
As it stands, Black women are three times as likely to die during childbirth and “five times more likely to die from pregnancy-related cardiomyopathy” compared with White women. Forcing Black women to carry every pregnancy to term will mean a death sentence for some. Having a child is a personal decision that fundamentally changes a woman’s life. And it’s unclear what the American public will do, if anything, to protect a woman’s right to choose her own destiny.
The United States and the Dominican Republic are the only two nations whose maternal mortality has risen since 2000. Not only is it inhumane to force someone to carry a child, but the irony isn’t lost on me that the world’s wealthiest nation fails to provide adequate healthcare for pregnant women, all the while debating a woman’s right to choose. These bans provide no exception for rape, incest, or medical emergency in the bills passed by Republican state legislators or the 6-week proposed federal ban on abortion.
The Equal Protection Clause should provide American citizens with “equal protection of the laws.” However, no laws infringe on men’s personal healthcare decisions in how abortion bans impact women. Therefore, depriving women of the right to choose to become mothers makes us second-class citizens. Furthermore, the 14th Amendment claims no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property.” How can women be free when the government can force them to give birth?
During the Antebellum slave era, White men forced Black women to bear children. Is America really going to return to this type of draconian standard? Only time will tell but based on the Supreme Court’s leak, women’s rights are on the chopping block this summer. If this doesn’t set a fire under progressive voters, I don’t know what will.
Let’s call a spade a spade. Conservatives are hypocrites when they call their position “pro-life.” We know that the majority of Republicans are pro-death penalty. And when it comes to protecting Black Americans from police brutality, they’re fighting to maintain qualified immunity. Despite guns becoming the leading cause of death for American children, conservatives stand against any reforms to keep students safe from gun violence. The “grand old party” has embraced anti-environmentalism even though, duh, we need a healthy planet to survive. America’s political right is not “pro-life.” Their movement is anti-democratic, anti-choice, and anti-liberty.
America’s conservatives have embraced anti-women, anti-Black, and anti-immigrant stances. White men like Tucker Carlson hoop and holler each night on Fox News that immigrants will replace White people and that critical race theory is “evil.” He couldn’t be more wrong. Xenophobia is evil, not immigrants trying to flee persecution in their home countries. Racism is evil, not Black people pursuing racial equity. Make no mistake. The Supreme Court’s leaked majority opinion is driven by White evangelicals, enforcing their religious beliefs on the general public. Don’t believe me, ask Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who recently claimed: “Satan manipulates women into getting abortions.” Even though most Americans support a woman’s right to choose, the loud, White religious minority keeps trying to control everyone.
Conservatives claimed the government should not force citizens to get vaccinated because it would violate their right to privacy. Yet, the Supreme Court had no problem blocking mask mandates that could keep Americans safe. Do you know what their hypocrisy shows us? Our current Supreme Court justices are unreliable custodians of Americans’ liberty. Overturning a super precedent like Roe v. Wade bulldozes the court’s legitimacy.
2022 is a difficult time to be an American. With Democrats having only a slim majority and Senators like Manchin and Sinema prioritizing the filibuster over Americans’ rights, it’s unclear if Congress has support to codify women’s rights into law. After all, The Supreme Court does not create laws; they interpret them. Federal protections would really help right now, but it’s unclear if the Democrats have the votes necessary to protect women.
Black women’s rights are an afterthought in America. When the 15th Amendment gave Black men the right to vote, the legislation did nothing to secure Black women’s rights, and while the 19th Amendment gave White women the right to vote, this legislation also failed to protect Black women. Sadly, the predictability of putting women last doesn’t do much to soften the blow. Why should men make decisions about what women do with their bodies? Nothing about this seems just, fair, or democratic.
Funny how White colonists came to America supposedly in search of religious freedom. But, now 244 years into the social experiment, White men continue to impose their religious doctrine on others. As I’ve written before, “white supremacy is a hell of a drug.” Some of you may think that abortion access has nothing to do with race, but it does because this decision disproportionately impacts black women. And while White girls and women will also suffer the impact, their voting record brought us to this point. Far too many White women supported George Bush and Trump, who put life-long anti-choice Supreme Court justices on the bench. But, all those pink hats and handmaiden’s tale outfits mean nothing if White women don’t vote to protect women’s rights. For example, in Virginia, White women overwhelmingly supported Glenn Youngkin even though he supported bans. In contrast, approximately 90% of Black women voted for Joe Biden and down-ballot Democratic candidates who support a woman’s right to choose.
So, given all that you know, what will you do to protect women’s rights? You can start by calling your elected representatives and asking them to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act. It passed the House of Representatives, but we’d need additional support to get over the filibuster hump in the Senate. One thing’s for sure. If you believe that women should have equal protection as cited in The 14th Amendment, you can’t sit on your hands, not when Black women’s liberty hangs in the balance.