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Twenty Black congresswomen, led by Representative Ayana Pressley (D-MA), sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to declare a public health and national emergency amid SCOTUS striking down Roe V. Wade on Friday. With the ruling, abortion is no longer federally protected.
The letter was signed by Representative Cori Bush (D-MO) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) among others. The letter reads, “These unprecedented and calculated attacks on our bodily autonomy are a direct affront to the lives and freedom of Black women.”
Indeed, SCOTUS 6-3 decision directly impacts Black and Brown women the most. One study from Duke University alleges that a complete abortion ban could increase Black maternal deaths by 33 percent.
NAACP calls out Supreme Court for “turning back the clock”
The 20 Black congresswomen were not the only organization to note the effects on Black women. According to Portia White, policy and legislative affairs vice president for the NAACP, “This Supreme Court is turning back the clock to a dangerous era where basic constitutional rights only exist for a select few.”
The Congresswomen, meanwhile, urged President Biden to take immediate action. “The effects of this decision on the lives and health of Black women and pregnant people will be devastating and require an urgent and whole-of-government response,” the letter stated.
Meanwhile, lower-income women will be impacted, particularly women who work blue-collar jobs that do not allow for sick time or time off. Abortion is now only accessible in a few states, with many women required to travel thousands of miles for safe health care.
Black women more impacted
Additionally, more Black and Brown women live in healthcare deserts, areas where access to healthcare is already limited. This restricts access to comprehensive reproductive health care – and even thorough information exchange.
Not to mention the sky-high maternal mortality rate for Black women, who die at over 3 times the rate of White women during pregnancy and afterwards. The letter addressed that fact, noting, “In the midst of a Black maternal mortality crisis already robbing us of the lives of Black women three to four times the rate of white women, restricting access to abortion care will disproportionately endanger the lives of Black women and pregnant people.”
While President Biden gave an impassioned speech regarding the need to protect abortion for all pregnant people, he stated he has no options to take executive action. He took a moment, however, to remind the American public that “Roe is on the ballot this fall.”
“We need to restore the protections of Roe as law of the land. We need to elect officials who will do that,” Biden said. “This is not over,” he added.