February 23, 2011 at 11:05am

Yesterday, racist billboards went up in Soho attacking black women and our human rights by claiming “the most dangerous place for an African American child is in the womb.” SisterSong, a coalition of 80 women of color and Indigenous women’s organizations, denounces this cynical attempt to use race during Black History Month as an excuse to assault women’s rights. Black women are not the pawns of these white people who erect such billboards. We find them offensive, racist, sexist and – most of all – disrespectful of our decision making, our 400-year history of raising and caring for black children, and our human right to make health care choices for ourselves.


As part of the Trust Black Women Partnership, we offer our allies the following four talking points to use in defense of black women:


Reinforce agency of black women

African American women have struggled to control when and how we have children for centuries. Access to birth control and abortion services are vital to our ability to have lives with dignity. Every African American woman who utilizes her full range of health care options, including abortion services, does so based on her own private circumstances and must always be able to do so with dignity and safety. We trust black women and recognize that each woman who chooses abortion does so, not because she is ill-informed or a dupe, but because she is making the best decision for herself and her family.


Social Context

The disparity in abortion rates mirrors all other health care disparities in the black community from heart disease to infant mortality and diabetes. To isolate abortion as if it is not a part of health care is disrespectful and ill-informed. These disparities speak to root causes too often overlooked when talking about the black community: “a long history of racism, lack of access to high-quality, affordable health care, too few educational and professional opportunities, unequal access to safe, clean neighborhoods, and for some…a lingering mistrust of the medical community.”[1]


Role of Providers

Providers and doctors play a critical role in helping women access our full range of options. In providing this legally protected service, health care providers assist women by creating a confidential and safe space to discuss all factors that may affect a pregnancy.


After Children are Born

We encourage advocates who are truly concerned about black babies to join us fighting for comprehensive healthcare, quality public education, ending gun violence, and fully funding programs like Title X. Anti-abortionists are conspicuously absent from these conversations and are unwilling to protect life after birth. We trust black women as mothers, providers, and decision makers.