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Opinions are the writer’s own and not those of Blavity's.


This month, millions of my fellow Texans and I are feeling anxiety and exhaustion as a judge finally evaluates the state’s near-total abortion ban and determines if the law is constitutional. My fellow reproductive justice advocates and I have fought against this abortion ban, which has deprived Texans of the right to control their bodies, lives and futures for months now. After numerous court rulings that blocked and restarted the ban in an agonizing legal ping pong, we look forward to abortion funds, providers and impacted Texans having our day in court, but it’s devastating that this blatantly unconstitutional law has been allowed to remain in place for so long already.

As the leader of a reproductive justice organization in North Texas, I have seen firsthand the devastating impact that the new abortion ban has had on our communities. Many Texans have been forced to travel out of state to get the abortion care they need; for those who can’t make arrangements for child care, transportation and the other necessary expenses, this essential health care may now be out of reach altogether.

But even if the near-total abortion ban is blocked permanently, that on its own would not stop the wide range of other, ongoing assaults on reproductive freedom that harm Black womxn — an inclusive term our organization uses to center Black women, girls, femmes and gender-nonconforming people. We have been facing profound systemic restrictions on our autonomy for generations.

While fighting back against abortion bans is important, that alone isn’t enough to guarantee lives of freedom and dignity for Black womxn and all people. At every level, our elected officials also need to recognize and actively address the full, wide range of intersecting forms of political, economic and reproductive oppression that Black womxn face. We need them to commit to policies that truly advance reproductive justice: the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.

Because of centuries of structures, systems and policies designed explicitly to oppress or exclude Black womxn, we are severely and disproportionately harmed by every health, economic and social crisis our country faces. We are more likely to face food insecurity and eviction from our homes, particularly now amid the economic carnage caused by the pandemic. Our family members are rounded up and incarcerated by an unjust criminal legal system, leading to devastating personal and generational trauma.

Many of our communities lack access to contraception and comprehensive sex education to help us fully control our reproductive futures. And in Texas and across the country, lawmakers are also enacting racist voter suppression laws designed to take away our voice and prevent us from changing the systems that have harmed us for so long.

Even when it comes to abortion, the reality of access to abortion care for Black womxn is very different than for many other communities. Roe v. Wade established the right to abortion, but the creation of that right rings hollow to the millions of Black womxn on Medicaid whose insurance won’t cover abortion because of the racist Hyde amendment. These types of restrictions that uniquely impact Black womxn are part of a long history of medical and reproductive oppression, including forced sterilization and other forms of non-consensual experimentation on our bodies.

All of these factors combine to create intersecting layers of oppression that prevent us from living lives of autonomy and freedom. When Black womxn are forced to carry pregnancies to term because of severe abortion restrictions, they also face a severely higher risk of maternal mortality than their white counterparts. The economic burden of raising children they may not be ready for can increase their likelihood of experiencing food and housing insecurity, with overburdened public programs like SNAP often barely enough to help them stay afloat financially.

The fight for abortion access is a critical one; people’s ability to end a pregnancy on their own terms is a fundamental component of the freedom to parent or not parent in the time, place and manner of their choosing. But even if abortion were fully accessible to all people tomorrow, that would still only resolve one piece of a larger puzzle of oppression and trauma that Black womxn face every day.

The time is long overdue for our lawmakers to take action on a bold agenda that ensures Black womxn and all people are able to live with safety, health and dignity. Policies that expand access to education, healthcare and housing, policies that end mass incarceration and police violence, policies that guarantee voting rights and bring our nation closer to becoming a genuine democracy. Guided by a vision of reproductive justice, we can create a world that acknowledges the full humanity and autonomy of Black womxn and gives us the freedom we have sought for centuries.