Letter from the reproductive justice community opposing PRENDA
December 8th, 2011
Categories: abortion restrictions
Hearing on H.R. 3541, The Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass
Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) of 2011
Written Testimony from the Reproductive Justice Community
December 6, 2011
We write to you as organizations concerned with protecting the rights and ensuring the well- being of women of color. We are organizations dedicated to reproductive justice, women’s empowerment, racial justice, and human rights, and we are outraged by the introduction of H.R. 3541, the “Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act.” This bill is a deceptive attempt to limit abortion access for women of color, and it targets Black, Latina and Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. We write to go on record with our opposition to this legislation.
While this bill purports to support gender equity and civil rights, it does neither. Instead, it discriminates against women of color and calls into question our ability to make decisions about our own bodies.
We recognize that this bill is an attack on our right to self-determine whether and when to have children, and we refuse to allow race and gender to be wielded as a weapon to undermine abortion rights by decision makers who have never been friends to our community. For example, this year, Congress members Chabot (R-OH), Franks (R-AZ), Pence (R-Ind.), and Smith (R-TX) voted to defund family planning, ban abortion coverage in state health insurance exchanges, and allow providers to refuse abortion care even when a woman’s life is in danger.
This bill places an unfair burden on women of color that other women do not have to face— increased scrutiny around our motives for seeking abortion care. This scrutiny promotes racial profiling by pushing doctors to assume Black, Latina, and Asian women are seeking abortions because of the race or sex of the fetus.
Moreover, making abortion harder to obtain will exacerbate the health disparities women of color already face. For example, Black women are already three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy related causes than white women, and the unintended pregnancy rate is 67% compared to 40% for white women. This bill would encourage unsafe practices that put women’s lives at risk. Family planning programs allow women of color to access contraceptives, prevent unplanned pregnancies, and improve healthcare outcomes for themselves and their children. Yet, the proponents of this bill, who claim they are concerned about women of color, want to introduce another barrier to access and have repeatedly proposed legislation to cut funding for family planning and women’s healthcare programs.
The truth is that we know what is best for us and our families, and our decisions are most often based on whether we can raise children with dignity and in a healthy way. We have seen state versions of this bill and are still being targeted by the insulting media campaign attached to it, which became famous for its billboards. Further evidencing that this is an effort to chip away at abortion rights, the groups that funded the billboards were anti-choice organizations, such as Georgia Right to Life and Heroic Media. We have fought these efforts in the past and will continue to do so at the federal level.
This anti-choice measure dressed as an anti-discrimination bill is not a way to promote racial and gender equality. Instead, it further exacerbates inequities and diminishes the health, well-being, and dignity of women and girls by restricting their access to reproductive health care.
We represent the women and people of color this bill purports to protect, and we are announcing our unequivocal condemnation of it.
ACCESS Women's Health Justice
Act for Women and Girls
Alliance for Human Biotechnology
American Medical Student Association
Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice (ACRJ)
California Latinas for Reproductive Justice
California Black Women’s Health Project
Center for Genetics and Society
Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR)
Civil Liberties and Public Policy program (CLPP), Hampshire College
Feminists for Changes (Eastern Kentucky University)
Law Students for Reproductive Justice (LSRJ)
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)
National Network of Abortion Funds
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH)
Our Bodies, Ourselves (OBOS)
Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Reproductive Health Technologies Project (RHTP)
SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW
Trust Black Women
Young Women United
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