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Who's Missing from the Roe v. Wade Conversation?

Health & Gender Policy Brief #141 | By: Chelsea Dade | August 16, 2022

Header photo taken from: Simone Noronha / NBC

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The media is failing to address the fact that nonbinary people and trans men need abortion care, too.

Photo taken from: Boston University

Policy Summary

Turn on the news and at least one of the segments will bring up the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. You might briefly hear about the case that got us to this point, Dobbs vs Jackson. When the Supreme Court issues its decision that the US does not confer a right to abortion, it overruled Roe v. Wade, as well as a related case,  Planned Parenthood v. Casey. What happens next is states are left with the decision of whether to ban abortion. But at least 13 states had “trigger laws” in place, which allowed abortion to be immediately banned if Roe v. Wade was no more. And now the impact of this overturning has begun.

But I guarantee you didn’t know that in 2019, the nationwide abortion rate was 23.8 per 1,000 Black women compared with 6.6 per 1,000 white women (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). While mainstream media may be showcasing wealthy white women on your TV in reference to abortion rights, the issue will disproportionality hurt Black women and trans and nonbinary people. This is one of the insidious ways that disparities start, in biased coverage that overlooks the full story. So, let’s dig into who’s missing from the Roe v. Wade discussion.

Policy Analysis

Trans and Non-binary people

Abortion doesn’t only impact “women,” but most coverage forgets this. The current reproductive rights conversation fails to cover how the overturning of Roe v. Wade hurts transgender and non-binary people. As people who can become pregnant, they have an equal say in this fight. When the overturning news broke , the ACLU eloquently responded with, “The fight for abortion rights and LGBTQ+ rights go hand in hand because they are both ultimately about protecting our bodily autonomy” (ACLU, 2022).

Black women

I’ve already pointed out that Black women are largely missing from the current Roe v. Wade overturn conversation. Now let’s talk about why. And get this… the answer is complex. There are a handful of Black-led reproductive justice organizations who have been sounding the alarm on the chance that R v. W could be no more for decades. Did anyone listen? Probably not or else we might be in a different situation. 


Women demonstrate against New York state abortion laws in Manhattan on March 28, 1970.

Photo taken from: Graphic House / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

(click or tap to enlargen)

Reproductive justice issues historically impact Black women and racialized women and non-binary people, yet most repro organizations are run by cis-gender white women. So decision-making power remains out of reach for people of color, in essence, maintaining the legacy of “white feminism”

 

If you regularly see a white-centric viewpoint when it comes to abortion rights, it’s because the leadership that promote this viewpoint is also white.

Black women and trans and non-binary people are missing from discussions around Roe v. Wade due to a history of overlooking reproductive equity and centering cisgender and wealthy white women. But just because this is the case doesn’t mean that there is nothing you can do to help rewrite this narrative.

Follow and attend events led by reproductive justice organizations (listed below) and reach out to your local and state legislators.

 

 

  • National Network of Abortion Funds
  • National Women’s Law Center
  • National Women’s Law Center
  • SisterSong Women of Color
  • New Voices for Reproductive Justice
  • New Voices for Reproductive Justice
  • SisterLove, Inc
  • SisterReach
  • SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW
  • The Afiya Center
  • Women With a Vision

Engagement Resources​

Click or tap on resource URL to visit links where available 

The National Network of Abortion Funds can point you to your local organization. Donate to an abortion fund now.

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