The chatter around the leaked draft opinion suggesting the overturn of Roe v. Wade may be dying down, but for many Black women led organizations around the country, the seemingly quiet conversations that have taken place for years are ready to make a ruckus.
Marcela Howell, founder and executive director of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda says that she and her partners began organizing as soon as Trump got elected into office. She and other Black leaders say that they are not at all surprised by the draft opinion, and are preparing to support every individual looking for resources should it come to pass.
“None of this is different. This has been happening forever,” Linda Goler Blount, president and CEO of the Black Women’s Health Imperative told NBC News. “It’s in the news, perhaps in a different way. But there’s nothing new about this.”
Howell shared that while the entire nation will feel the impact of abortion restrictions always hit low income communities the hardest. The Hyde Amendment disallows federal funds to be used for abortions. This means that programs like medicaid will not cover the cost for the service.
“There are all these kinds of barriers that have been set in front of women of low income, which are predominantly women of color. And those barriers have been there,” Howell said. “So Roe has always been the floor, not the ceiling.”
However, for the 23 states that have passed “trigger laws,” the ban would go into effect almost immediately, forcing most of those seeking services to travel elsewhere. In response, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot pledged $500,000 to help city residents do just that. Other organizations leaders are doing the same.
In HBCUs nationwide, My Sister’s Keeper, an organization launched by The Black Women’s Health Imperative is working to promote reproductive justice, among other issues. The org has developed an app to help campus dwellers find health resources and facilities near them.
In Baton Rouge’s Southern University chapter, Yazmine Pleasant, a junior and member of My Sister’s Keeper says the matter of what would become necessary if Roe v. Wade was to be overturned. Pleasant tells NBC news that her group finds it particularly important to secure abortion services for victims of rape and invest, and additionally provide mental health resources for them. For Blount, who is not just an activist but an epidemiologist as well, figuring out how to provide medication abortions to those in areas like Mississippi, where there is a sole abortion clinic.
LaTosha Brown, a founder of Black Voters Matter, said Black people “don’t have the luxury of organizing just from a single issue. A notion Black feminists have held since the turn of the 20th century.
“What resonates with the way that we’re organizing is that we organized this as a connected issue — abortion rights, voting rights —all of those things are all connected,” Brown said. “They’re not different.”