In its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the Roe v. Wade ruling which found that the U.S. Constitution protects a pregnant women’s right to have an abortion without excessive government restriction. This new ruling removed the constitutional protection, meaning that states and local governments can legally pass additional laws which restrict a woman’s access to abortion or outlaws it all-together. Many states already have latent abortion laws on the book, which will now go into effect without the prohibitions established by the Roe decision. While this ruling is rightfully being interpreted as an attack on women’s rights nationwide, increased restrictions on abortion will be especially damaging for women of color.
According to the Associated Press and the Kaiser Family Foundation, African American women make up 40% of the female population in conservative states, but account for upwards of 80% of legal abortions. Black women in the United States are five times more likely to have an abortion at some point in their lives than white women. Most studies have found that higher abortion rates among women of color are the result of lower contraceptive access and a greater risk of pregnancies with complications. Black women are three times more likely to die from issues related to childbirth than white women, and are much less likely to have their pregnancy related issues treated seriously by healthcare professionals. African American women also disproportionately live in conservative states, where abortions access is more likely to be restricted. This means that they also tend to live in states where they have limited access to Medicaid and the type of housing and food assistance that will ensures the health of babies in low-income families. As such, the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade should be viewed not only as an attack on the bodily autonomy of women nationwide, but also a method for ensuring the continued poverty and lack of healthcare access for communities of color. It is not incidental that conservative policymakers have long pursued a policy which disproportionately targets women of color. The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade should be viewed as a focused attack on African American women nationwide.