Eighteen. That’s the number of states that have passed laws restricting abortion access in 2021 as highlighted by USAFacts’ 21 numbers that shaped 2021. The abortion debate has been a heated one for years, but with the Supreme Court having the power and opportunity to overturn Roe v Wade, those for and against a women’s right to choose have been amplifying the messages in favor of their views.
For anti-abortion activists, a common refrain has been that banning abortions would prevent a Black American genocide. These activists have linked abortion to racism, claiming that the founder of Planned Parenthood, one of the largest providers of abortions in the United States, was a proponent of eugenics, the study of how to arrange reproduction within a human population to increase the occurrence of heritable characteristics regarded as desirable — read: white.
Despite the efforts of the Black anti-abortion movement, polls, including a 2021 Pew Research study, frequently show that Black Americans are supportive of legal abortions in all or most cases. And the inclination of some Conservatives to link racism to abortion, while ignoring the need for better gun control laws, increased access to healthcare, and a more equitable medical system has increasingly become a major sticking point.
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves ruled in 2018 that the Mississippi abortion law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks, was "unequivocally" a violation of women's constitutional rights. "The record is clear: States may not ban abortions prior to viability," Reeves said at the time, adding that the state’s professed interest in women’s rights was “pure gaslighting.” The state's high infant mortality rates and Mississippi’s decision to not expand Medicaid, is a clear indication of that.
The Supreme Court, in recent weeks, has heard arguments regarding Mississippi and Texas’ restrictive abortion laws. It agreed to allow the Texas ban to continue, declining to block the state law, but has also allowed challenges to proceed. The high court is expected to make a decision on the Mississippi law in the new year.
As Roe v Wade hangs in the balance, Democrats are fighting back in their own way. California Governor Gavin Newsom pledged this month to empower private citizens to enforce a ban on the manufacture and sale of assault weapons in the state. He linked the decision to the decision of conservative lawmakers in Texas to outlaw most abortions once a heartbeat is detected.
“SCOTUS is letting private citizens in Texas sue to stop abortion?!,” Newsom tweeted after the court’s decision. “If that's the precedent, then we'll let Californians sue those who put ghost guns and assault weapons on our streets. If TX can ban abortion and endanger lives, CA can ban deadly weapons of war and save lives.”
CDC data shows that young Black men and teens are killed by guns at 20 times the rate of their white counterparts.
As for the White House, they are taking this time to hone in on the passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act. “We must protect the constitutional right recognized under Roe v. Wade by codifying it into law,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a statement this month. “We must pass the Women’s Health Protection Act. And we must continue to do everything in our power to defend women’s reproductive rights.”