A video on the Facebook page for nonprofit anti-abortion organization Louisiana Right to Life starts with a pregnant Black woman receiving an ultrasound. The viewer hears, “Here I come world!” before seeing a newborn Black baby girl. The video shows a time-lapse of the girl as she goes from toddler to student to working adult before heading back into a medical facility where a doctor says, “Let’s begin the procedure.” The graphic of a beeping heart monitor appears on screen. The beeping stops. “Life offers endless possibilities. Abortion offers none,” can be seen and heard. “Another Black baby dead,” is implied.
Nationally, Black women have been singled out for having higher rates of abortion than others. And in Louisiana, where Black women are four times more likely to receive abortion care than white women, 62 percent of voters chose to approve Amendment 1 — a vote that would affect the state’s Black women most. The amendment will add language to the state constitution that keeps any securities or protections of a right to abortion or any mention of state funding of abortions, except for in cases of life endangerment, from ever appearing in the document.
According to the CDC, in 2016, Black women received 61 percent of all abortions provided in Louisiana. While Black advocates on both sides of the abortion debate say they consider systemic racism and the deep-rooted socio-economic differences that may lead Black women to choose abortion more than white women, they approached these societal problems in fundamentally different ways.
The debate is age-old, wrapped in new, more socially-conscious packaging. Who ultimately decides how a pregnancy is managed — the government and voters or actual pregnant people?
But for anti-abortion state senator Katrina Jackson, who authored the amendment, the data signifies that the government should concentrate on creating social programs that foster economic opportunities for marginalized people instead of providing access to abortion care.
Katrina Rogers, who ran the Louisiana for Personal Freedoms abortion rights campaign, believes that the state’s most marginalized residents (she includes trans men and gender non-conforming people in this group, as they can become pregnant) should not be further penalized by losing bodily autonomy. That statistic — 61 percent — signifies to Rogers that Black women in Louisiana want access to abortion care.