ban on contraception funding doesn’t have a marital status clause.
Phillips and her ilk want to punish women who are sexually active.
We are back in the 1950s, an era when “bad” girls had to live
in shame and be punished too.
What happens to poor black women in Missouri
who need birth control? They must either find a way to pay for
it themselves, take their chances with unprotected sex,
or practice abstinence that isn’t required of anyone else.
How do politicians get away with depriving citizens
of medical care? In part because too many Black people feel
comfortable living up to the phony image of bible thumping church
goers who forsake sex and oppose abortion. The fact is that
black women have abortions at a disproportionate rate and will
therefore suffer disproportionately whenever efforts to limit
access to birth control and abortion succeed.
Black women suffered disproportionately
when abortion was illegal. Before abortion was legalized in
New York in 1970, black and Puerto Rican women accounted for
80 percent of deaths from illegal abortions. In Georgia between
1965 and 1967 the Black maternal death rate due to illegal abortion
was fourteen times that of white women.
2000, the abortion
rate for black women (30 per 1,000 women) was 3.1 times
the rate for white women (10 per 1,000 women). Those are strange
numbers for an anti-abortion group. Denial is not a river in
Dr. Joseph Booker and his colleagues in Mississippi
work under the strictest abortion laws in the nation. All patients
must undergo a 24 hour waiting period before the procedure can
be performed. If they are willing and able to travel from great
distances to get to the only clinic in Jackson, they must then
be willing to brave an ugly crowd of protesters. Seventy-three
percent of women who enter that clinic are black.
Louisiana is following in its neighbor’s footsteps.
It has voted to end abortion in anticipation of Roe v. Wade
being overturned. State Senator Diana Bajoie is a Democrat and
a founder of that legislature’s black caucus. She wants to outlaw
abortion, with no
exceptions permitted, not even to save the life of the mother.
“If you believe in life, that’s what it should be.”
Bajoie thinks that abortions performed to save
the mother’s life are wrong because the mother could decide
that she wants the baby to live instead of herself. Phony melodrama
about women willing to die in childbirth is the product of a
sick mind. Hurricane Katrina must have addled Bajoie’s brain.
Bajoie proves that black women must be willing
to speak up with their own voice, their own race and their own
gender. Female politicians like Phillips and Bajoie need to
be reminded, by their female constituents, that no one has to
vote for them.
Hopefully the pro-life forces will begin to speak
up for the lives of those who have already been born. Maybe
they will tell President Bush not to incinerate Iranians with
nuclear weapons. If they don’t, perhaps the rest of us will
speak up in favor of medical care for all, even medical care
for women who dare to have sex.
Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column
appears weekly in BC. Ms. Kimberley
is a freelance writer living in New York City. She can be reached
via e-Mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can read more of Ms. Kimberley's writings at freedomrider.blogspot.com.