Erica Williams, Executive Director of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute shares the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the case that recognized a federal constitutional right to abortion.
“Collective liberation in the District and across the country can only be achieved if everyone is able to live to their fullest. At the most basic level, this requires the freedom to control one’s own body, including decisions about whether and when to have children.
Control over our bodies, however, has been elusive for people of color. From enslavement and genocide, to forced sterilization, to barriers to health care and contraception, to extreme and unaddressed maternal mortality rates, the United States has a long history of denying birthing people of color the right to determine their sexual and reproductive lives.
The Supreme Court’s decision to push further out of reach a fundamental choice that every birthing person should have only exacerbates that history and further cements the economic and health disparities that Black and brown people experience. Nationally, half of all people who seek abortions live below the poverty level and 75 percent are low income, with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Because of structural racism, poor people in this country are more likely to be Black and brown. And it is people of color and people with fewer resources who will be disproportionately impacted by further abortion restrictions and bans with significant economic consequences: Research shows that when someone is denied an abortion, they are four times as likely to be living in poverty years later.
Access to reproductive health care, including abortion, can determine whether a person can advance their education, keep their job, and get on a trajectory to higher wages. All of this enables economic security and mobility, with positive ripple effects on families, communities, and ultimately our economy.
Racial, economic, and gender justice demand reproductive freedom. Our bodies, our choices, our vision for our own futures should be ours alone, and this basic self-determination also strengthens collective well-being.”