Roe v. Wade & the Impact on People of Color

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As we have discussed in previous blog posts of this series, the overturning of Roe v. Wade has several implications for individuals, families, and communities. Race has a profound impact across systems within the United States and the recent Supreme Court decision surrounding Roe v. Wade is no different. According to MPR, “because of the way structural racism and structural poverty works, abortion patients are extremely diverse. The majority of all abortion patients are people of color. So, when restrictions happen, they do tend to disproportionately harm BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) patients” (2022). MPR goes further, stating, “There’s some estimates that say we can expect a 21 percent increase (nationally) in pregnancy-related deaths for all populations. And for Black folks, we can expect to see up to a 33 percent increase, which is, of course, significantly worse” (2022). Race is a determinant of health, and the overturning of Roe v. Wade will further the disparities within the health care system and beyond.

In addition to the abortion bans, the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has sparked discussions and laws that would also criminalize abortion. The criminalization of abortion will also disproportionately impact people of color. The United States Criminal Justice System already arrests and incarcerates people of color at much higher rates than whites; as the majority of all abortion patients are people of color, the criminalization of abortion will only further these disparities.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, there are several other implications for people of color as it relates to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. These implications are:

  • “People of color are at a higher risk of dying for pregnancy-related reasons or infancy compared to White people.
  • People of color are more likely to experience certain birth risks and adverse birth outcomes compared to White people.
  • Denying women access to abortion services has negative economic consequences.
  • Women of color between the ages of 18-49 face greater barriers to access health care overall compared to their white counterparts.
  • Women of color have more limited financial resources and transportation options than white women, which would make it more difficult for them to travel out of state for an abortion.
  • Women of color are more likely to be low-income.
  • Women of color are less likely to have savings readily available to cover the costs of an abortion.
  • Vehicle access is also more limited among women of color.
  • Some women of color may also have immigration-related fears about traveling out of state for an abortion.
  • Women of color likely face greater challenges in accessing and navigating information on how to obtain an abortion compared to white women” (KFF, 2022).

Overall, the already existing disparities that exist for individuals, families and communities of color are further complicated and exacerbated by the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The decision will have devastating impacts on our families and communities. EVOLVE Family Services will continue to attempt to address these disparities, racist and oppressive practices through our work with individuals, families, and communities. We are guided in our work through our Standards of Antiracism and Anti-Oppression, which you can review by clicking this link.

Continue to follow our blog series, as in subsequent posts we will discuss the impacts on the child welfare system and will close the series with action steps.

Peters, J. (2022, May 12). Overturning Roe v. Wade will harm people of color and burden Minnesota’s health care system, researcher says. MPR News. Retrieved August 4, 2022, from https://www.mprnews.org/story/2022/05/12/overturning-roe-v-wade-will-harm-people-of-color-and-burden-minnesota-sahan

Samantha Artiga Follow @SArtiga2 on Twitter, L. H. F. @hill_latoya on T. (2022, July 15). What are the implications of the overturning of Roe v. Wade for racial disparities? KFF. Retrieved August 4, 2022, from https://www.kff.org/racial-equity-and-health-policy/issue-brief/what-are-the-implications-of-the-overturning-of-roe-v-wade-for-racial-disparities/

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