Abortion Laws Place Burden on Black Women

Weyni Kidanemariam, Around School Editor

 Following the 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade restrictive abortion, legislation has been passed in rapid succession in the US as individual states have the power to regulate any aspect of abortion not protected by federal law. With this current restriction on one of the most necessary medical procedures for women’s health, Black women are disproportionately affected. Black women in particular have historically experienced many difficulties getting access to healthcare. These surrounding barriers are a direct result of not only classism and economic injustices but also misogyny and racism, exacerbating the effects of abortion laws. “Maternal, newborn, and unplanned pregnancy death rates have always been higher for black women as black women seek abortions at the highest rate and will face greater rates of maternal mortality,” according to Vox. This devastation holds an immense impact on women of color and their view and distrust for the healthcare system. These issues can manifest into medical gaslighting, a term used when healthcare professionals downplay or blow off symptoms.

The Center For Disease Control states that Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women.

Furthermore, these laws often have harsh consequences for healthcare providers who offer abortion services. This causes black women to endure heightened difficulties during gestation, sometimes necessitating the termination of their pregnancy in later stages.  Nayissa Jean-Michel ’25 told the Register Forum, “It’s disheartening to believe we are going backwards instead of forward.” With Wade being overturned, many women’s healthcare providers have rapidly shut down, and many of the remaining ones are located in more urban and wealthier neighborhoods. Due to gentrification and the economic crisis that has immensely affected the black community, unfortunately, Black women must go farther and pay more money to obtain care, which results in longer wait periods to even access this help.  This inequality in healthcare access, in turn, can exacerbate health disparities among Black women and continue to contribute to the already tragic newborn mortality rates. Nicholas Watter, CRLS history teacher, spoke out against this issue. “Black women and women of color are bearing the detrimental effects.”

The Center For Disease Control states that Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women. Black women have historically faced higher rates of maternal mortality, infant mortality, and unintended pregnancies. Furthermore, limitations set on the extent of medical aid regarding termination of pregnancy inequitably impact women from African American communities. These individuals are more prone to being either uninsured or inadequately covered by insurance policies. It follows that individuals are frequently compelled to furnish payment using personal funds for the procurement of abortion procedures, which may entail a monetary obligation amounting to several thousand dollars. This financial burden can have devastating consequences, as it may prevent Black women from accessing other essential healthcare services. In addition, when women are restricted from obtaining safe and legitimate abortions, they may resort to illegal measures. The adverse impacts of this phenomenon can culminate in potentially fatal medical problems, perpetuating a vicious cycle of destitution and imparity. 

These barriers that are placed on black women significantly perpetuate cycles of disparities and lack of access to simple healthcare necessities that are prohibited because of the overturning of Roe. 

This article also appears in our May/June 2023 print edition.