Black Women for Wellness Action Project (BWWAP) vehemently opposes the Texas abortion ban and we are deeply saddened to learn of the Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 decision blocking review of Texas’s unduly restrictive abortion legislation, S.B. 8.
The Texas law bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, which is before many people even become aware that they are pregnant, and allows no exceptions for instances of rape or incest. The ban also enables abusers to obtain control over a person’s reproductive rights by empowering anyone to sue to prevent a pregnant person from terminating their pregnancy. Moreover, the ban makes ordinary citizens bounty hunters, by incentivizing individuals to sue doctors and others who help a person access abortion with a $10,000 reward. SCOTUS’s unwillingness to intervene will effectively prevent women in Texas from exercising the constitutional rights that its landmark Roe v. Wade decision guarantees.
The abortion ban and SCOTUS’s failure to review the ban continue this country’s tradition of suppression of our sexual and reproductive rights. Black women and people with uteruses’ reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy, in particular, have been systematically restricted and attacked throughout our nation’s history; the ban and the failure to review the ban are simply more unjust burdens that will be felt most heavily by Black women and women of color. We have been denied the resources, services, and information necessary to make personal medical decisions about if, when, and how to parent. Not only are Black women and birthing people more likely to lack sex education and birth control access, but we also experience pregnancy-related complications and death during childbirth at a rate much higher than our white counterparts. Now, if we live in Texas, we must also seek alternatives, such as traveling hundreds of miles to another state to access abortions, which impose a significant financial burden.
The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 has exacerbated the economic hardship and family obligations many Black women and parents already face—making options like out-of-state travel to obtain medical care a major obstacle, and therefore preventing people from making the reproductive choices that are best fit for them and their families. Moreover, those living with multiple marginalized identities in addition to being Black and femme—those who are disabled, currently or formerly incarcerated, LGBTQ+, low-income, survivors of domestic violence or intimate partner violence—are placed in an especially vulnerable position that makes it difficult to secure and exercise their reproductive rights.
“S.B. 8 is a cruel and pernicious piece of legislation through which the Texas legislature masterfully engages its citizens to infringe on the constitutional rights of an entire class of people. It sanctions the surveillance and policing of the bodies of women and people with uteruses in an unprecedented way,” said Onyemma Obiekea, Policy Analyst, Black Women for Wellness/Action Project. This law is harmful in so many ways and is truly worrisome, as it creates a blueprint for other state legislatures to follow suit. SCOTUS’s refusal to intervene functions as a signal — a green light for states to enact these types of blatantly unconstitutional laws. The recent events underscore the importance of our participation in the political process — officials elected to office at all levels have a direct impact on our ability to lead a full, dignified, and free existence. The misplaced priority of the legislature is disconcerting; rather than making investments to improve access to healthcare or decrease the staggering maternal mortality rates, for example, it prioritizes oppression and surveillance of its very citizens.”
BWWAP denounces the Texas abortion ban. We stand with the women and other pregnant persons, families, health providers, and advocates in Texas who are raising their voices against this law! We will proudly continue the fight to advance reproductive justice and abolish oppressive structures that jeopardize our reproductive freedom, by building the political power of Black women in California.