Apr 28 2014

How Attacks on Reproductive Rights Disproportionately Affect Women of Color

Republican controlled states across the US are whittling away the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade which enshrined a woman’s right to an abortion. On Friday the Florida State Senate approved a bill which would require doctors to perform a medical exam to determine a fetus’ viability before allowing an abortion thereby outlawing abortions possibly earlier than the 20th week of pregnancy.

Twenty week mid-pregnancy abortion bans have been instituted in a number of states including Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana. In Mississippi, Governor Phil Bryant signed a bill last week banning abortions at 20 weeks of gestational age with no exceptions for rape or incest. And Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry has gone a step further by not only banning abortions after 20 weeks but also requiring that any doctor performing an abortion have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic, a requirement which is near impossible in a State where most of the hospitals are religiously affiliated. Texas, the second largest state in the country now has only 5 abortion clinics.

And, laws which grant fetuses full constitutional rights are also on the rise. In Tennessee, Governor Bill Haslam is expected to sign a bill allowing the state to file criminal charges against pregnant women if they’ve taken illegal drugs which have resulted in a miscarriage, stillbirth or a newborn with symptoms of drug withdrawal. Mothers could potentially face jail times of up to 15 years if the bill grants personhood to a fetus.

GUEST: Loretta Ross, former Coordinator of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective

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