In a scorching dissent, the Supreme Court’s liberal wing, including Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first woman of color to sit on the bench, explained just how devastating the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade will be for Black women.
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman appointed to the Supreme Court, did not provide an opinion because she hasn’t been sworn in yet. (She’ll likely be sworn in this summer after Justice Stephen Breyer retires).
The impact of this ruling will be sweeping, but the liberal justices were quick to point out that poor and Black Americans will lose out the most.
“Above all others, women lacking financial resources will suffer from today’s decision,” wrote the liberal justices, which in the United States, are disproportionately Black and Indigenous women.
Justices pointed to data looking at the impact of losing Roe on maternal mortality rates.
“Experts estimate that a ban on abortions increases maternal mortality by 21 percent,” wrote the liberal wing of the court.“with white women facing a 13 percent increase in maternal mortality while black women face a 33 percent increase.”
Over half of all Black Americans live in the south where the majority of the states who have passed trigger laws, which will immediately ban abortion, are located. And experts at the Brookings Institute, expect that these bans will have an outsized impact on Black women’s poverty levels, educational attainment, and health.
Sotomayor, Kagan, and Breyer were quick to dismiss the argument that folks who need care can just go to states that allow abortion.
“Today’s decision, the majority says, permits “each State” to address abortion as it pleases,” they wrote. “That is cold comfort, of course, for the poor woman who cannot get the money to fly to a distant State for a procedure.”
Traveling is an expense many Americans, especially many Black Americans simply cannot afford. Not to mention the fact that most Americans who receive abortions already have children at home, who they’ll now have to arrange care for.
“It is women who cannot afford to do [travel] who will suffer most,” wrote the justices. “These are the women most likely to seek abortion care in the first place.”