African American leaders across the nation largely condemned the U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued on June 24, overturning the federal abortion protections of Roe v. Wade, with some describing the action as a “pro-policing of women’s bodies” and a move to “criminalize Black women.”
The 5-4 vote overturns a 49-year-old landmark decision and puts abortion policy at the discretion of states, many of which have restricted or outlawed the procedure in recent months.
Issuing a strong reaction to the SCOTUS ruling, Congresswoman Maxine Waters declared, “I stand in solidarity with the 36 million women being stripped of their right to decide what is best for themselves. We WILL keep fighting!”
“Women are going to control their bodies no matter how they try and stop us. The hell with the Supreme Court. We will defy them. Women will be in control of their bodies. And if they think black women are intimidated or afraid, they got another thought coming.”
“Black women will be out in droves,” she continued. “We will be out by the thousands; we will be out by the millions. We are going to make sure we fight by the right to control our own bodies.
“As a Member of Congress, I’m proud to have voted to protect abortion access. Today’s SCOTUS decision makes it even more clear: we need federal protections for reproductive health. I am committed to continuing this FIGHT: in Congress, in the streets, and at the Ballot Box!
The following are some of the other reactions shared with the Sentinel:
Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Joyce Beatty: “The hands of time have once again been turned back. The extreme right-wing Supreme Court majority’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the law of the land for 49 years that gave a woman the right to choose, will have far-reaching and painful consequences. Moreover, in the midst of a Black maternal mortality crisis, restricting access to abortion care will disproportionately endanger the lives of Black Americans.
“Let me be very clear: government-mandated pregnancy is not pro-life, it is pro-policing of women’s bodies. In response to this unacceptable decision, I, along with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, are co-leading a letter to President Biden urging him to swiftly declare this unprecedented attack on abortion rights and access as the public health the national emergency that it is. We have seen what life was like pre-Roe v. Wade, and America cannot afford to go back.”
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland): “The conservative majority Supreme Court just handed down a decision that overturns the precedent set by Roe v. Wade — ending nearly 50 years of constitutional protections to the right to an abortion.
“The reproductive rights for millions of Americans is now at risk as Republican state legislators and governors prepare to ban abortion at the state level — with some bans going into effect immediately.
Today’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision will go down in infamy as we turn back the clock to an era before Roe. It’s an era I know too well as someone who was forced to cross international lines to seek a back-alley abortion before they were legal in the United States.
As difficult as today might be, we cannot despair. There are too many people counting on us for answers.
“As co-chair of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, I can promise that I will continue to do everything in my power to advance legislation that codifies access to safe, legal abortion no matter where you live.
But until then, we must do our best to support those who will be impacted most by today’s decision — people seeking abortion care. Today does not mark the end of our fight for reproductive rights.”
Areva Martin, Attorney, CNN legal analyst, autism advocate: “The aftershocks of today’s SCOTUS opinion overturning Roe vs. Wade are already rippling across the country, as many states have trigger laws withdrawing the established right to abortion. This devastating decision is happening despite that documented fact that a majority of this country — Democrats and Republicans alike — support the abortion and understand it as a fundamental right.
“Black and brown women in this country have always struggled with obstacles to equality and with the bitter reality that, as citizens, we are “lesser than.” And, as always, Black and brown women and those struggling to get by fincnaically will be hit hardest by the ruling.
“As a lawyer deeply engaged with civil rights issue, I am appalled at a ruling that claims, at its core, the justification that the right to abortion is not specifically enumerated in the constitution. The Constitution is silent on countless other rights we rely on every day in this country; it’s telling that a woman’s right to abortion is the one the Court has chosen to decimate today.
“The concurring opinion of Justice Thomas should be a wake-up call to everyone. Thomas calls out the rights to same-sex marriage and contraceptives as examples of others that are not enumerated in the constitution. He is laying out the game plan of the right. We should consider ourselves forewarned.
Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable: “Today’s U. S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is the culmination of a decades-long attack and campaign against women’s rights led by conservative extremists. Since Texas’ near-total abortion ban (SB8) in 2021, conservative state legislatures and governors have doubled down in their quest to deny women their fundamental right to safe and legal abortions.
“In 2022 alone, almost 550 abortion restrictions have been introduced across more than 40 states. Make no mistake, this is not just an attack on women’s autonomy: this is class warfare, sexism and systemic racism at work. Who pays the price when abortions are outlawed? Poor women, women of color, women & girls who have been raped or molested and the millions of women who already have limited access to high quality healthcare.
“It is no accident that the states pushing cruel and oppressive anti-abortion legislation are the same states approving laws that brazenly disenfranchise and suppress the vote of the working poor and communities of color. This Supreme Court decision will only enable these states to further destabilize the pillars of our democracy while impeding our basic civil rights.
“Nearly 40% of all abortions in America since Roe vs. Wade have been by Black Americans. This country has declared war on Black women — and it’s time that we fight back. We are demanding, once again, that the Senate abolish the filibuster and Congress immediately codify access to abortion into law. The 2022 Mid-Term Election Cycle is here and women will not forget who stood up to support women having control of our own bodies.”
Ashley K. Shelton, founder and president of the Power Coalition for Equity & Justice: “This moment is devastating. In a place like Louisiana, where you have the highest rate of maternal mortality in the country, you are literally sentencing Black women to death. Louisiana has a trigger law, and as soon as Roe came down, it automatically made abortion care illegal. This tramples people’s rights, even beyond abortion. This is about privacy, it’s about healthcare, it’s about the criminalization of Black and poor women, and it’s about what happens when a person’s choices are taken away.
“What do you do when you cannot afford to fly or drive to a separate place for healthcare services? This will also criminalize Black women, attorneys and medical providers. This is a huge issue. I am a Black female Catholic mother and I believe these are individual choices. Everyone should be able to decide what is best for them.”
Kendra Cotton, chief operating officer for the New Georgia Project: “Consider the states where this decision will have the greatest harm – it is Southern states. In these places, large majorities of Black and Brown women will be impacted.
“This decision effectively attacks poor, Black, and Brown women. For many wealthy women, this will be another day. But in trigger states, this will do a lot of harm. In Georgia, our state minimum wage is still $5.15 an hour. This is an activist court that has tried to put upon the entire country, their conservative values and that is not what America is about.”
Sue Dunlap, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles: “Make no mistake: Planned Parenthood Los Angeles health centers remain open, abortion is still legal in Los Angeles and California, and we will continue to fight to ensure everyone has access to care in Los Angeles, no matter what.”
“The consequences of this devastating decision will fall largely on people who already face the greatest barriers to health care due to this country’s legacy of racism and discrimination, including Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities, people with low incomes, LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, and people living in rural areas.
“In preparation for this ruling, PPLA has been working with the State of California, Los Angeles County and the cities of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and West Hollywood to prepare for this decision and the impacts it will have on Planned Parenthood health centers across California. In January, Governor Gavin Newsom declared California a Haven State for abortion access and following that announcement the County Board of Supervisors declared Los Angeles County a Haven County for access to abortion and reproductive health care. This momentum continued as cities such as Long Beach, Los Angeles, and West Hollywood signaled their strong support for access to safe and legal abortion and began preparing for the increase of patients who may seek care here due to hostile bans in their home state.
“The court’s decision goes against the will of American people, 80% of whom support legal abortion. Even with today’s decision, abortion is still legal in many parts of the country. People who need care should go to https://www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-los-angeles or call 1-800-576-5544.