Nadine Spencer

Nadine Spencer

Roe v Wade

Like many people in North America this week, my heart was broken at the announcement that the US Supreme Court had overturned Roe vs. Wade. Although we knew that this was likely to happen from the leaked documents last month, the announcement was still a shock to the system, and I was literally moved to tears as I considered the ramifications of this socially regressive decision.

While I am concerned for the rights and autonomy of all women, I am especially concerned for Black women in the US, many of whom make up one of the most medically underserved and financially at-risk populations. These women are part of a multi-generational poverty spiral that will only be exacerbated by unwanted pregnancies that lead to single motherhood without the resources necessary to adequately support their children. Access to health care was already difficult for these women, but many of them will now find themselves in states that have completely taken away their right to make choices about their bodies and their ability to receive abortion services in their states. Because many of them will be unable to afford to travel out of state to access these services, there will almost certainly be a major increase in dangerous DIY abortions, children who are born into the poverty trap, and others who are given up to the foster system.

Having immigrated to Canada with my mother at a young age, I understand what these challenges can entail and how damaging they can be. While many single Black mothers do a great job of raising their children, even in the case of those who are financially disadvantaged, there are many who are simply not equipped for or interested in motherhood. These women should not have to choose between expressing their sexuality and getting stuck in a debilitating cycle of social struggle, but thanks to last week’s decision by the Supreme Court, that is exactly what they will have to do.

This huge step backward in the struggle for women’s rights and social justice is a reminder of how important it is that we continue to advocate for social issues. In states that have indicated the intention to outlaw abortion, grassroots movements are needed to educate and advocate for access to health care for unwanted pregnancies. And in states that are not currently planning to implement abortion bans, we must communicate to leaders the need to codify these rights into state law. In the meantime, we need to continue the fight for social justice across all sectors and demographics, advocating for equality, inclusivity, tolerance, financial support, and the entire spectrum of social programs. Let’s turn this poor decision by the courts into a rallying cry for social justice, rather than allowing it to become the first of many steps toward limiting rights and regressing to a less tolerant era.