The Black Women’s Health Imperative released a statement as attacks on black women’s body autonomy erupt during Women’s History Month.

Wyoming governor banning abortion pills and Texas consider a possible decision to revoke an FDA-approved abortion pill

ATLANTA, March 19, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Today, the Black Women’s Health Imperative issued the following statement in response to the attacks on medical abortion in Wyoming and Texas.

Black Women’s Health Enforcement (PRNewsfoto/Black Women’s Health Enforcement)

We knew this was coming. We knew that the attacks on our agency, our access, and ultimately our bodily autonomy had only just begun with the overturning of Roe. We knew they would go after another important part of women’s health care – medical abortion. And now we really know what political leaders in certain states in America really think about the rights of black women, indeed all women”, said Dr. Ifeoma C. Udohexecutive vice president of policy, advocacy and science at the Black Women’s Health Imperative.

The facts are indisputable: medical abortions are safe. Medical abortions are becoming the preferred method of pregnancy termination United States even before the Supreme Court struck it down Roe v. Wade, the law that protected abortion rights for 50 years. Now, a combination of the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol, which can be taken at home, is the most common form of medical abortion in the United States.

It was an anxious end to the third week of Women’s History Month. In what appeared to be a coordinated anti-abortion frenzy on Friday night Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon banned the abortion pill in his state and allowed a separate measure restricting abortions to become law without his signature. That put a chill on the encouraging news North Dakota the day before, when the North Dakota Supreme Court ruled that the state’s abortion ban would remain blocked pending a case over its constitutionality. A day earlier, the judge appointed by Trump in Texas Matthew Kaczmarik heard controversy over whether mifepristone could be sold in the US. His pending decision could limit access to the drug nationwide—thus potentially criminalizing its use for women and providers nationwide.

Mifepristone has been considered safe by the FDA for 20 years. It can be taken at home, is used in more than half of pregnancy terminations in the US, and also treats other illnesses and conditions. But a lawsuit filed by an anti-abortion group in Texas claims that the drug’s safety has never been properly studied. The pill is already banned in 13 states with a complete ban on all forms of abortion care, and 15 states have limited access to the pill for abortion care. For the first time, a state judge has been asked to essentially revoke the approval of a drug with a long history of safety and effectiveness that has been safely used by more than 5.6 million people since it received FDA approval.

This decision is particularly important for black women living in Texas. According to 2022 Texas Tribune

article at least 50,000 Texans have abortions each year, with black Texans consistently having the highest abortion rates. As of 2020, black women make up 30% of all legal abortions in Texas. (Find here: Texas Abortion Statistics)

Carrying a child to term is not without risks. The Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee report estimated that up to 90% of maternal deaths may be preventable (see: Texas Tribune article December 2022).

Serious medical complications of pregnancy and childbirth also increased significantly between 2018 and 2020, increasing from 58.2 to 72.7 cases per 10,000 births in Texas.

Black women were twice as likely as white women and four times as likely as Hispanic women to die from pregnancy-related causes. Safe abortion care is often the only way to save a woman’s life.

“All women—regardless of their race or ethnicity—are now forced to acknowledge that we exist in a political and legal environment that willfully and openly disregards the bodily autonomy of women, and of black women in particular. These legal maneuvers are becoming synonymous with what the American public recognizes as markers of modern democratic breakdown. Human rights are questioned and contested at the national level,Dr. Udoh added.

Despite this challenging week, the Black Women’s Health Imperative will continue to actively promote access to safe reproductive health services. We stand firm in our belief in the right to privacy and equity in health care—which means the right to access safe abortion treatment options.

The Black Women’s Health Imperative will continue to educate the people we serve about their rights, promote voter registration and civic engagement at all levels – especially the judicial level – to ensure our needs are voiced and represented. Most importantly, we will continue our efforts to achieve a reality in which all women have the unequivocal right to receive quality and dignified care.

On Black Women’s Health Imperatives:
The Black Women’s Health Imperative is the first and only national nonprofit organization, created for and by Black women, dedicated to improving the health and well-being of our nation’s 21 million Black women and girls—physically, emotionally, and financially. Our core mission is to advance health equity and social justice for Black women throughout their lives through policy, advocacy, education, research, and leadership development.

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