The Pro-Life Political Agenda Puts Black Women at Risk

The “pro-life” political agenda is NOT pro-(Black) lives. “Pro-Life” politicians oppose:

A Minimum Living Wage For Black Mothers To Care For Their Kids

In the last few months, House and Senate Democrats proposed legislation to raise the Ohio minimum wage from $8.10 to $10.10. These measures are unlikely to receive any traction since both houses of the Ohio General Assembly have Republican majorities.

According to Democratic Rep. Kent Smith, “Roughly 23 percent of Ohio children would see one of their parents get a raise if Ohio’s minimum wage is increased to $10.10 an hour.” According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, Black women in Ohio make just $0.66 for every dollar made by a white male.

Minimum living wage increases face Republican opposition at every turn. These politicians claim to be “pro-life,” but don’t support a living wage for families across Ohio that are struggling to make ends meet.

Sources: Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ohio Senate, Columbus Dispatch, Butler County Journal-News, National Parnership for Women and Families

Medically Accurate Sex Education For Black Girls

Ohio has no statewide model curriculum for sex education, leaving decisions on the specifics up to local school districts. The only sex education requirements prescribed by The Ohio Revised Code are that schools should teach about “venereal diseases” (now known as STIs), and if they decide to discuss sex and sexuality, the focus should be on abstinence and the harmful physical and psychological effects of sex before marriage.

Ohio’s youth of color need accurate sexual and reproductive information to decrease their risks for STIs, HIV, unhealthy relationships and unintended pregnancy. A comprehensive sexuality education can help young people understand their bodies and protect their health, but Ohio’s so-called “pro-life” politicians refuse to consider anything other than abstinence-only programs.

Sources: Ohio Board of Education, Ohio Revised Code

Reforms To Reduce The Rates Of Incarceration Among Black People

According to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, Black people are disproportionately over-represented in Ohio’s prisons. For pregnant inmates this means they are are shackled through labor until the active delivery phase and then immediately restrained post-delivery. These shackling policies pose a threat to incarcerated women and girls in Ohio.

racism-pie-chart

Black people are more likely to be arrested, and face longer and more severe sentences than their white peers for the same offense.

The Ohio female prison population is growing rapidly — it has increased 10-fold since 1974. Most of the women imprisoned in Ohio are serving short sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, and many are struggling with mental illness. There are currently 54 pregnant women in Ohio’s prisons, and 7 mothers/babies in the AB Nursery.

Sources: ACLU of Ohio, Columbus Dispatch, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

Affordable Access To Contraceptives, Family Planning Services, And Abortion Care For Black Women

Politics continues to infringe upon the sexual and reproductive rights of Black women by targeting them with racist anti-choice billboards shaming their reproductive decisions and, the persistent threats to defund or limit federal allocations for family planning services, including contraceptives and abortion care.

In February, Gov. Kasich signed a bill that prohibits certain federal funds from being used for abortion services or the “promotion” of abortion services, except when the woman’s life is at risk. The restriction applies to funds related to the Violence Against Women Act, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Mortality Prevention Act, the infertility prevention project, the minority HIV/AIDS initiative, the infant mortality reduction or infant vitality initiatives, and the personal responsibility education program.

Other restrictions on abortion include:

  • State-directed counseling designed to discourage abortion.
  • State-mandated ultrasound to test for a fetal heartbeat, and women must be offered the option to view the image.
  • Health plans offered under the Affordable Care Act that only cover abortion services in the case of rape, incest, or danger to the life of the mother.
  • The parent of a minor must consent before an abortion is provided.

Bodily autonomy and self-determination are at the core of Black women’s human rights. Removing the barriers to obtain safe and legal abortions and trusting Black women to make their own decisions about their health is critical to advancing Reproductive Justice.

Sources: Guttmacher Institute, ColorLines, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio

Research On Maternal And Infant Mortality Among Black Women In Ohio

The maternal and infant mortality rates among Black women in Ohio are some of the highest in the country. Black families are disproportionately affected, with the Black infant mortality rate at more than double the white infant mortality rate in Ohio. These statistics come from the same politicians who don’t want to introduce legislation that would pay a fair wage for working mothers to ensure she has the healthcare she needs before and during her pregnancy, and while she’s parenting her child.

Though state-level data is scarce, the maternal mortality rate in the US is 18.5 pregnancy-related deaths for every 100,000 live births. For African-American women, the rate is more than twice as high at 41.1 pregnancy-related deaths for every 100,000 live births, according to the CDC. Race is an unfortunate indicator of the ability to carry a birth to term and to make a decision about whether or not you will have a child. These health disparities provide insight on the political contradictions of our state legislators concerning the health and well being of Black women and girls.

High rates of infant and maternal mortality among Black women is still not fully understood, however we know that the axis of white supremacy, anti-Black racism and systemic oppression play a critical role in these disparities. Although Ohio has a high poverty rate, this does not explain the disproportional impact on Black women across all income levels. Black Ohioans also suffer with high rates of obesity, diabetes, alcohol and drug addiction, as well as racially motivated police and vigilante violence. The more we can do to learn about infant and maternal mortality, the greater our opportunities will be to care for and protect Black mothers and children.

Sources: The Pew Charitable Trusts, Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

End The Hypocrisy.