A Deadly Decision: The Impact of Overturning Roe V. Wade on Black Missourians–and Ways to Keep Us Safe

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The landmark decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey made Missouri the first state in the country to ban abortions.

Moments after the ruling, due to “trigger laws,” Missouri became the first state for the laws to go in effect. Ten states soon followed by either completely banning abortions or also placing similar “trigger laws” into effect. Some of these states have large populations of Black people, including Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

These laws have raised alarm for the health and safety of Black individuals. Specifically, low-income Black folks living in Missouri are especially at risk following the decision to overturn the decades-long precedent.

“The decision in Dobbs will exacerbate the impact of these disparities because Black women now have fewer reproductive health choices in a system that is already operating in ways that disproportionately harm us,” Najarian Peters, an associate law professor at Kansas University, told The Defender. “This is part of a pattern and practice rooted in the control of Black women’s bodies that dates back to enslavement-this country’s founding economic system that permeated every level of society and arguably continues to echo and influence our laws, policies, educational and health systems today.”

Between 2007 and 2016, the CDC found Black women are over 40% likely to experience pregnancy related mortality while White women are only 13% likely. Black women over the age of 30 are five times as likely to experience complications compared to their white counterparts.

“A lot of the research related to Black maternal mortality, infant mortality rates, health disparities and outcomes focused on issues created and exacerbated by poverty, lack of education, and access to insurance coverage,” Peters said.

However, research has shown this is false. According to the CDC, Black women with at least a college degree are still five times likelier to experience pregnancy-related mortality.

Planned Parenthood has offered low cost health care to marginalized communities. Planned Parenthood Great Plains has provided care for over 300,000 individuals in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

In the Kansas City Metro area, there are currently four clinics with the newest addition located in Wyandotte county. The clinics provide health screenings, emergency contraceptives and sex education to its surrounding communities–many of those having large Black and Brown populations.

Kourtney Vincent-Woodbury, Planned Parenthood Great Plains Vice President of People, Equity & Culture, said in a statement to The Defender that banning abortions are ways states can seize control of private and personal decisions. These laws are opportunities to continue the long-standing over-policing and over-surveillance of Black, Indigenous and people of color’s bodies.

Due to recent bans in other states, Planned Parenthood is expecting a greater demand. This has played a factor in the decision to add another clinic in the Greater Plains region.

“​​In addition, with access becoming more rare and greater demand on the few abortion providers that remain, PPGP is aware of the danger that BIPOC and low-income individuals will be crowded out,” she said.

The new facility in Wyandotte County will offer the community comprehensive health care including birth control, STI and HIV testing and treatment, gender-affirming care, emergency contraception and pregnancy testing and services. The clinic will also provide abortion services.

Vincent-Woodbury pointed out emergency contraceptives are not illegal in Missouri and Planned Parenthood will continue to offer the option at facilities in Missouri.

“Planned Parenthood Great Plains is in Wyandotte County to stay,” she said.

Planned Parenthood has also launched the Center for Abortion and Reproductive Equity to improve accessibility to safe abortions in the area.

In addition to Planned Parenthood’s advocacy, organizations like Reale Justice Network have been protesting abortions bans since the draft was leaked on May 2. Organizations and grassroots activists are calling Kansans to vote “no” on House Bill 2746. Voting “no” opposes amending the right to abortions in the Kansas Consitutition.

If the Kansas House votes to amend the Kansas Consituition, abortions will be outlawed with no exceptions for rape or incest. Performing or attempting abortions will become a felony, which will directly affect Black birthing individuals.

August 2, Kansans will vote on the protections of abortions rights. The deadline to register to vote is July 22. Kansans can register to vote at VoteKansas.gov.

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