A Tale of Two Americas: The Deepening Crisis of Reproductive Rights for Marginalized Communities

The U.S. is witnessing a “tale of two states” scenario, in which some states have preserved or expanded access to abortion, while others have drastically curtailed it.

Abortion rights demonstrators gather near the State Capitol in Austin, Texas, June 25, 2022. (Photo by SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP via Getty Images)

With the 2024 presidential election on the horizon, the U.S. faces a pivotal moment in its ongoing struggle for reproductive rights. The escalating conflict, now at the forefront of national debate, reveals a profound and disproportionate impact on Black, brown, Indigenous, Latinx and other marginalized communities.

This was the focus of “Landscape for Abortion Access in 2024,” a briefing hosted by Conway Strategic held ahead of what would have been the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. On Sunday Jan.14, the event brought together experts and advocates to discuss the challenges and realities of abortion access in the current political climate.

Jennifer Driver of the State Innovation Exchange opened the dialogue, emphasizing that the challenge of abortion access in America is not uniform. The nation is witnessing a “tale of two states” scenario, Driver said, in which some states have preserved or expanded access to abortion, while others have drastically curtailed it. This disparity creates a situation where access to abortion care is heavily dependent on geographic location and socio-economic status—particularly for those without the ability to travel across state lines and other marginalized communities.

The case of Yeniifer Alvarez and the fight for equitable healthcare

The situation is notably dire for undocumented people in states like Texas, where severe abortion bans and tough immigration enforcement efforts create near-impossible barriers to abortion access. Undocumented people are also barred from federal health programs, making reproductive healthcare even more difficult to access.

Lupe M. Rodriguez from the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice emphasized the challenges faced by the Latinx community, noting that for many, the pursuit of abortion care carries the risks of family separation, detention and deportation. 

Exemplifying these challenges is the life and death of Yeniifer Alvarez-Estrada Glick, a Latina woman who died just two weeks after the overturn of Roe v. Wade due to lack of access to abortion care in Texas. Glick’s health complications included hypertension, diabetes and pulmonary edema, which made her pregnancy high-risk. Throughout the more than five hospital visits during her pregnancy, abortion was never discussed as an option by her doctors.

The reluctance of her healthcare providers to discuss abortion was intensified by the legal landscape in Texas, particularly after SB 8 went into effect. This law bans abortions after six weeks, except in vaguely defined “medical emergencies.” Due to the bill’s lack of clarity and its provision encouraging citizens to report and take legal action against anyone associated with abortions, medical professionals in Texas have become hesitant to provide vital treatments or discuss abortion out of fear of legal repercussions. 

Glick’s death serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for political support and advocacy for candidates who champion abortion justice, aiming to ensure accessible and equitable reproductive healthcare for all, especially for those most vulnerable in the U.S.

Mobilizing for change

In a direct response to these glaring disparities, Nourbese Flint from the All* Above All Action Fund announced the launch of the All Action PAC, a political action committee founded by women of color aimed at supporting candidates who advocate for abortion justice.

The committee’s efforts are centered on comprehensive engagement at both federal and local elections. They are focused on “uplifting abortion justice champions and organizing the people and voters to ensure their voices are being heard in the election.” All Action PAC has established collaborative efforts in several states, with a notable presence in Colorado, to support candidates advocating for abortion justice.

Emphasizing the inclusivity of their approach, the committee highlights the importance of understanding “what abortion justice is and how it’s impacted by people of color, or seen by people of color, the immigrants, women, all the folks that we need and that we care about in that work.”

As All Action PAC sets its sights on educating and mobilizing voters, particularly people of color often overlooked in mainstream discussions, shifting the narrative from one enveloped in crisis to one focused on active change. The call to action for sustained advocacy, community engagement and political mobilization, echoed in Driver’s words, becomes a rallying cry for solidarity.

“No matter the outcome of this year’s elections,” Driver affirmed, “people on the ground and the elected officials who support them will continue to mobilize and come together to help each other get the care that they need. And at the end of the day, we take care of each other.”

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Wakaba Oto is an editorial intern at Ms. and is completing her undergraduate degree in English and journalism at Fordham University. She is passionate about investigative journalism, with a focus on uncovering misconduct in government and corporate sectors. She has roots in Amsterdam and Tokyo.