For many Black women, the Roe v. Wade decision last month not only stripped them of physiological autonomy but also imposed another obstacle to economic security and the ability to shape their own future.
For 49 years, women have had the right to abort a pregnancy without having to justify it, allowing some to pursue their educational and career ambitions, as well as start families when they were in secure situations.
This has helped Black women, who continue to strive for equal rights in the United States.
Black women are three times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related problems, face greater rates of racism from healthcare providers, endure unequal compensation, and are more likely than White women to lack health insurance.
Now, activists fear that millions of women will be denied abortion treatment because their state has restricted access and they cannot afford to fly for the treatment.
CNN spoke with five Black women about their previous abortion decisions and why they believe the repeal of Roe v. Wade will have disastrous ramifications.
A Woman From Chicago Did Not Want To Be A Low-Income Single Mother
Miriah Mark was 15 weeks pregnant when she made the agonizing decision to seek an abortion last summer.
Mark, 31, stated that her spouse had left her life and that she was not making enough money at her record label job to support a child. Mark stated that the cost of renting a two-bedroom apartment in Chicago, as well as the escalating cost of daycare, were prohibitively expensive.
It took her a month after discovering she was pregnant to decide she wanted an abortion.
Mark stated that she was raised by a single Black mother who worked numerous jobs, battled to make ends meet, and had to rely on grandparents to care for Mark. She didn’t want to go through that again.
“I don’t want to raise a child in a world where everyone has every benefit,” Mark explained. “I understand what it’s like to witness children growing up in poverty. I know what it’s like to be a little Black girl without a father or a mother who can’t be at home because they have to work. It was terrifying to consider all of it.”
Now, Mark says she has the opportunity to start a family when she is ready. She can marry and achieve her educational and career aspirations before having a child.
She is concerned that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, other Black women would be compelled to have children or resort to risky, illegal abortion techniques.
According to Mark, this might significantly worsen the consequences for Black women, who already experience disparities in health care and pay.
“It’s sad and terrifying because we’re going backward historically, and it feels like you’re going back to a time when women didn’t have rights or couldn’t vote,” Mark said of the Supreme Court ruling. “It indicates that we are heading in the wrong direction.”
She Was A College Student Suffering From An Ectopic Pregnancy
Josephine Kalipeni’s entire world came crumbling down when she found out she was pregnant during her sophomore year of college.
Kalipeni, who emigrated to the United States from Malawi when she was eight years old, said she was attempting to get out of an abusive relationship and recognized that finishing her degree was critical to obtaining economic security. While studying sociology and political science, she worked part-time to pay for her classes and books.
“I hadn’t seen someone have a child at such a young age while in college,” Kalipeni explained. “I hadn’t been exposed to many single mothers who were balancing college and motherhood. I was aware that my folks would be displeased. It was a terrible and burdensome scenario for me.”
To make matters worse, Kalipeni stated that she was hospitalized for two months due to a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg develops outside of a woman’s uterus. Internal bleeding, infection, and even death are all possibilities.
She met with a doctor, and they ultimately decided to terminate her pregnancy. With the Supreme Court verdict, however, there are rising worries in the medical community regarding how health care practitioners can treat an ectopic pregnancy.
Kalipeni went on to serve as a social worker before becoming the executive director of Family Values @Work. She has promised to keep advocating for women, organizing voters, and pressuring policymakers to safeguard women’s rights.
Kalipeni expressed sadness that many Black and brown women with high-risk pregnancies, financial difficulties, and violent spouses will not have access to abortion as she did.
“I’m very mad,” Kalipeni exclaimed. “And it’s that furious, weeping rage. Because there seems to be an ongoing need to defend the humanity of being a Black woman.”
She Had Dreams Of Going To Yale
Alana Edmondson, 21, was working a low-wage retail job in Seattle to help pay her way through community college when she discovered she was pregnant. Edmondson acknowledged that having a kid would make it more difficult for her to complete college; she was already struggling to finance tuition and had already halted her studies. Edmondson had loftier goals as well. She hoped to one day attend Yale University and obtain her Ph.D.
“It was already very, very difficult, and there were enough barriers in the way of me doing what I wanted to achieve,” Edmondson explained. “Adding a pregnancy and a child to that mix seemed like it would just make life tougher, and why would I want to do that to myself?”
She and her partner made the decision to have an abortion. Edmondson stated that the decision gave her the freedom to pursue the future she desired. She completed community college, received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington, and was accepted to Yale, where she is now in her third year. She stated that she is one step closer to a job as a college lecturer.
It sickens Edmondson to know that Black women in many parts of the country will be denied abortion care. Edmondson believes that women who are forced to have children may have to give up their educational and career objectives. According to her, the impact may be Black women repeating the cycle of poverty or experiencing generational trauma in their families.
“It feels like they’re anxious to catch us,” Edmondson added. “It appears to be just another tactic to poison Black neighborhoods and trap Black women. And when you capture Black women, you capture the entire family unit.”
A Woman From Vermont Needs To Leave An Abusive Relationship And Finish College
Kiah Morris is on the front lines fighting for women’s rights to choose abortion and their own future.
Morris, a former Vermont state representative, joined a group protesting the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade earlier this month.
Despite the fact that Vermont preserves abortion rights, Morris and other marchers felt compelled to rally for women around the country. Morris has campaigned for low- or no-cost contraception for everybody, in addition to abortion rights.
“There’s wrath, frustration, and justifiable rage,” said Morris, the executive director of the charity Rights & Democracy. “It’s an entire emotional cycle.”
Morris stated that she has direct knowledge of how abortion access may enhance women’s lives. When she was in an unstable and emotionally abusive relationship her freshman year of college, she had an abortion. Morris stated at the time that she was battling with her mental health and that her boyfriend had stated that he was not interested in starting a family with her.
“It was the hardest decision I’d ever had to make,” she explained. “I knew I needed to be in the correct mental health environment to (have a baby). I wanted to be in the right situation. A college freshman is not prepared to raise a child.”
Morris stated that the abortion allowed her to postpone creating a kid until she was mature, in a healthy relationship, and emotionally secure. She is currently the mother of an 11-year-old son.
Morris claims that access to abortion provides Black women choice over their own bodies as well as a shot at economic prosperity. Black women have borne the consequences of unintended pregnancies since slavery, she claims. Historically, Black women have been conditioned to believe that they should carry the pregnancy even if their family or financial status is less than ideal, according to Morris. She claimed that abortion provided them with another alternative.
“My concern is that the few achievements we’ve gained will be lost,” she remarked. “Within all of this, black women remain unseen and forgotten.”
Kentucky Parent Was Afraid Of Being Judged For Her Decision
When Jackie McGranahan learned that Roe v. Wade had been reversed, she paused briefly in her car before heading inside her Louisville office as a policy strategist for the ACLU of Kentucky.
“I thought, right now, at this moment, at this time, while I’m in the car, none of this is true,” McGranahan said. “Even though I knew what to expect and that it would happen as a result of the leaked opinion, it didn’t make it any less distressing in the moment.”
McGranahan afterward sobbed with a colleague before returning to work.
She is in the eye of the storm as the organization’s first Reproductive Freedom Project field organizer in Kentucky, where a judge temporarily suspended the state’s abortion ban after the ACLU filed a lawsuit. McGranahan is in charge of pushing state legislators to support measures that preserve reproductive freedom and LGBTQ+ equality.
McGranahan advocates for Black maternal health paid family leave, and “holding the line on birth control” in addition to abortion rights.
The challenges are personal to McGranahan, who had an abortion when she was 22 years old and 10 weeks pregnant.
McGranahan, who had a son and a daughter before turning 21, claimed she kept the abortion a secret for fear of being condemned for her decision.
She claimed to be a young mother struggling to make ends meet in a neighborhood that was predominantly anti-abortion.
“I was in college and working full-time,” she explained. “My companion was also in school. My financial support was essential to our family… I had no idea how we were going to feed our kids.”
McGranahan’s main regret is that she did not share her abortion experience so she might have been a source of encouragement and support for those who were quietly imprisoned in what she calls a “loop of shame.”
“When someone makes this decision, they need to be supported, respected, and treated with decency,” she says.
This research and article was published originally by CNN