New Study Shows Black Communities Want Clinic Access

shutterstock_282891467Since January, 51 state-level abortion restrictions have been enacted, which brings the total to 282 since 2010. As reproductive health services continue to be cut, especially in the South, low-income women and women of color will be disproportionately affected.

According to a survey conducted by In Our Own Voice—a newly formed coalition that seeks to amplify the voices of black women in reproductive rights dialogue—85 percent of black women and men agree that black women should be trusted to make their own reproductive choices, and 71 percent believe abortion should be available in their communities.

Other compelling statistics from the new study:

  • 86 percent of African Americans see contraception, such as birth control pills, IUDs, Depo-Provera shots and diaphragms, as part of women’s basic health care
  • 94 percent agree publicly funded contraception should be accessible for low-income people who desire it
  • 89 percent would likely be willing to take their teens to get birth control if they expressed a need for it

Said Dázon Dixon Diallo, founder and CEO of reproductive justice nonprofit SisterLove in Atlanta, during a press teleconference:

Overwhelmingly, black Americans support a woman’s right to determine for herself when she will have children. We are being faced with an assault against that critical belief that exists in the black community.

As clinics shutter, black women not only lose access to abortion but also to the many other reproductive health services that clinics provide, such as STD testing and cancer screenings. Black women are two times more likely to die from cervical cancer than white women, and are also more likely to die from breast cancer—despite being less likely to contract breast cancer.

“When we see TRAP laws go into effect, we see clinics close for no good reason. These restrictions are not employed for the benefit of public health,” said Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute during the teleconference.

The recent Supreme Court victory upholding insurance subsidies provided under the Affordable Care Act shouldn’t distract from the encroachments on reproductive rights at the state level. Women must still be vigilant about what abortion legislation their local lawmakers are supporting.

“When you can’t control your reproduction, you can’t control your life,” said Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former U.S. Surgeon General and current professor at the University of Arkansas, at the press conference.

She continued, “Black women’s lives matter. We’ve been overlooked, overworked, stressed out and not supported by society. We can do better and we must.”

Photo via Shutterstock

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Anita Little is the associate editor at Ms. magazine. Follow her on Twitter.

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