According to the Guttmacher Institute, in Texas in 2019 about 70 percent of abortions were provided to women of color.
The Paper. sat down for an interview with two reproductive health leaders to discuss the importance of abortion access for people of color. Nicole Martin, who is both Navajo and Laguna Pueblo, is one of three co-founders and the sex education developer for Indigenous Women Rising. Indigenous Women Rising is committed to honoring Native and Indigenous peoples’ inherent right to equitable and culturally safe healthcare options through accessible health education, resources and advocacy. Although Indigenous Women Rising is uniquely Native and Indigenous in terms of its clientele, Martin states the significance of their work for all black and brown bodies. Erica Davis is co-chair of Indigenous Women Rising. She is part of New Mexico Black Central Organizing Committee, communications director for Nurses for Sexual Reproductive Health and communications lead for Interfaith Voices for Reproductive Justice.
Abortion Restrictions and Impacted Community
Davis and Martin speak to the current laws in Texas as being one more added layer for not only the Black community but also Indigenous, LGBTQ, trans and impoverished communities who are being impacted nationwide by increasing abortion restrictions. Davis says these restrictions are intentionally inhumane and work to erase communities by denying access to crucial needs such as abortion.
Addressing National Data
Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) released data this year showing that over half of the people who receive abortions nationwide are Black women. Davis says, “Although the statistical analysis provided by Planned Parenthood shows that the Black community is able to get access to reproductive services, I caution the community to beware of such statistics and the effects it has on the overall narrative of the Black community, stereotyping Black women as using abortion as a means of birth control.”
As a person of color, Martin states she is fortunate to be a part an organization that works in partnership with the National Network of Abortion Funds. Many of these funds are generated predominantly by people of color-led organizations that are comprised of volunteers who are creating opportunities for reproductive health care and education.
Out to Pastor
Churches are are often divided on the issue of abortion access. As a born and raised New Mexican, Davis says that she has yet to see statements released from Black churches in New Mexico regarding support for abortion access in the Black community. Davis focuses on an organization she works with called Interfaith Voices for Reproductive Justice (IV4RJ). IV4RJ is a national organization of interfaith progressive voices that works to create transformative theological narratives that center the moral authority of Black women and girls. IV4RJ works directly to create education and advocacy by teaming up with religious scholars, clergy and ethicists to strengthen their grounding in reproductive justice. They are currently the leading organization for the Black reproductive policy agenda.
Black Babies Matter
Reproductive justice doesn’t just mean access to abortion. Davis states, “Mattering is the minimum” in regards to Black Lives Matter and its impact on abortion access and says, “No person should be forced to carry a pregnancy that they don’t desire,” she said. “Abortions across the state are often determined by those who wish to outlaw [them] and decide abortions are destroying the fabrication of Black families.” Martin emphasizes that, “Women need to have the autonomy that first needs to occur for women’s ownership over their own bodies and rights to abortion access before they can even begin to have equal footing in the discussion of abortion access.” Ultimately, Davis said that, “Meeting the needs of children beyond the birth of a child is critical to both the discourse and laws created surrounding abortion access in the Black community.”
To get involved with these organizations or donate please visit their websites.
Indigenous Women Rising: https://www.iwrising.org
Interfaith Voices for Reproductive Justice: https://www.iv4rj.org
Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-rocky-mountains