Commentary: What President Romney Could Mean for Black Female Reproductive Health

The Republican nominee's statements about women's rights will not win over African-American women.

Posted: 10/25/2012 11:15 PM EDT
Commentary: What President Romney Could Mean for Black Female Reproductive Health

As several controversial billboards from conservative groups attempted to remind us last year, Black women have abortions at rates far higher than other women in America.

 

“The abortion rate for Blacks is over three times that of the majority,” wrote Danielle Wright for BET in July 2011, “and about 15 million African-American women have had abortions since 1973.”

 

Right-wing groups have tried to paint the relatively high Black abortion rate as being something similar to genocide, but the explanation is actually a lot less calculated and evil as that. Susan A. Cohen, who is with the reproductive health nonprofit the Guttmacher Institute, covered why Black women are having more abortions for RH Reality Check last year:

 

Fundamentally, the question at hand is less why women of color have higher abortion rates than white women than it is what can be done to help them have fewer unintended pregnancies. Obviously, facilitating better access to contraceptive services is key. Beyond access, however, dissatisfaction with the quality of services and the methods themselves may be as much or sometimes more of an impediment to effective use of contraceptives.

 

…Geographic access to services is a factor for some women; however, for many, it is more a matter of being able to afford the more effective — usually more expensive — prescription methods.

 

Beyond geographic and financial access, life events such as relationship changes, moving or personal crises can have a direct impact on method continuation. Such events are more common for low-income and minority women than for others, and may contribute to unstable life situations where consistent use of contraceptives is lower priority than simply getting by.

 

In other words, many African-Americans have trouble accessing quality general and mental health care. And many African-American women have trouble accessing proper sexual health care to help prevent pregnancy. Without that proper health care, unintended pregnancies happen far more often than they would otherwise.

 

All this in mind, anyone who’s been paying attention should be able to see the disaster that a Mitt Romney presidency would be for Black women’s reproductive health. Romney would seek to defund Planned Parenthood, thus putting in danger a key place where women can go to get contraception and other reproductive services.

 

He would also likely appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, allowing states to end legal abortion. In essence, Romney would be doubly disastrous, because he would cut off contraception supplies while also cutting off access to abortions for women who became unintentionally pregnant.

 

In the Black community, where access to good sexual health care is already difficult to come by, this is unacceptable. It’s yet another reason why it’s not shocking more African-Americans aren’t supporting Romney for president.


These views do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

 

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(Photo: AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

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