Op-EdOpinion

JOHNS/GRISSON: Why Blacks Should Care About Supreme Court Decision on Abortion Access

On Monday, June 29, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) struck down Louisiana laws restricting abortion. The 5-4 decision was led by Chief Justice Roberts and backed by Justices Ginsburg, Kagan, Breyer and Sotomayor. The now-invalid Louisiana law is a conservative push to restricts access to abortion.

The Louisiana law was modeled off of a similar Texas law (which SCOTUS ruled unconstitutional in 2016), which required abortion providers to receive admitting privileges to hospitals in order to operate. These illegal “guidelines” have been determined as not medically necessary to ensure the safety of patients and are created with the sole purpose of closing as many abortion/reproductive health clinics as possible.

This latest victory in the fight towards reproductive freedom also serves as a reprieve for our Black LGBTQ/SGL (same-gender-loving) family. Queer and trans people are also in need of abortion access — a fact that often goes ignored by mainstream media. Additionally, members of the Black queer community are disproportionately likely to experience poverty and lack access to qualified and competent health care system due to anti-Black racism and anti-LGBTQ stigma and bias. These policies and practices have disastrous effects on the health of Black and queer people. Black women are 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than White women. Black Americans make up 500,000 cases of those living with HIV in the United States. We don’t collect data on the heath of Black queer people but based on what we know about the data on Black people and LGBTQ+ people we can only imagine that the data would reveal what we know–those of us with multiple marginalized identities often suffer the most.

Conservative attempts to control bodies through the provision and denial of health care must include the fact that clinics that provide reproductive services such as abortion provide the life-affirming care Black queer, trans and non-binary people are often denied. Access to resources such as birth control, HIV testing and treatment, and breast cancer screenings are often provided by reproductive care clinics being targeted by anti-abortion legislation. Organizations like Planned Parenthood often support individuals living with HIV, those in need of accessing hormone replacement therapy, and various other forms of care that those belonging to the Black LGBTQ community are often reliant on. In order for all Black lives to matter, we must address the gross inequities in our health care system and push for legislation that explicitly protects the rights of Black queer individuals in health care. Reproductive justice is social justice and it’s beyond time that we’ve recognized this fact.

Advocates are encouraging Congress to pass two pieces of legislation: the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) as well as the Equality Act. The WHPA would ensure that the protections iterated in Roe v. Wade are backed by federal law and no longer dependent upon state. The goal of the Equality Act is to extend existing civil rights protections to encompass sexual orientation and gender identity. Contacting your representatives to push forward these essential pieces of legislation is a step towards ensuring that #AllBlackLivesMatter.

Find your House representative: https://www.house.gov
Find your senator: https://www.senate.gov

David J. Johns is executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, the nation’s leading civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same-gender-loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.

Jada Grisson, a rising senior at The College of New Jersey, is a summer 2020 intern with the National Black Justice Coalition.

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