In a July 10 op-ed at the Wall Street Journal, Jason Riley wondered whether it was too much to ask for the “Black abortion rate” to be part of the discussion on the future of Roe v. Wade in the wake of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court. I am a Black mother who has spent much of my professional and personal life advocating for people to access the full range of sexual and reproductive health care regardless of age, race, income, or ability. So I have to ask, has the author been paying any attention or listening to Black women like me? If not, he should take a seat.
Black women have been leading conversations on these issues for decades, but their voices are too often ignored or silenced with ahistorical perspectives like Riley’s. Had he paid attention, he would know Black women working in their communities on these issues have been talking ad nauseam about reproductive justice, which puts abortion, birthing, and parenting in the context of the totality of the Black experience in America. Instead, he villainizes Black women by suggesting our terminated pregnancies are akin to “black violent behavior.”
Black people who have abortions aren’t being forced to do so, and trying to coerce Black women into continuing their pregnancies or expanding families is advancing white supremacist notions about what Black women are here for. Why is it so offensive to imagine that every Black woman in America may not have the desire or means to have or expand their family? We have been coerced enough. Black liberation is not measured in numbers of Black births; it is measured by thriving, autonomous Black lives.