Leslie Fields-Cruz
MAY 10, 2022




By Leslie Fields-Cruz

Raising Black Voices on Women's Health

I struggle to understand why anyone is truly shocked that Roe v Wade is on the verge of being overturned. For my entire adult life, anti-abortion advocates, politicians and voters have done everything they could to weaken and thwart the ruling. For them, the 2020 death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg presented an opportunity. The appointment of her successor, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, gave the court the long-sought conservative majority that most analysts expect will rule to overturn Roe

Graphic from Dawn Porter's Trapped, (2016)

The consequences of a weakened Roe in many states already weigh heavily on Black women and our families. We typically live in states that have stricter limitations on abortion access. We have unequal access to healthcare and birth control. We are more likely than our White and Asian peers to be sexually assulted. And our children are less likely than other children to be adopted even though they are overrepresented in the foster-care system. For us, the demise of Roe would be an especially painful inflection point in U.S. history.  Especially given the growing number of states that are making it illegal to have, provide and even offer transportation to abortions. Just what we DON’T need, another excuse to lock us up.

I don’t know what it is like to live in a country where women lack the right to choose. But I do know that however SCOTUS rules on the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health case next month, the fight over reproductive rights will continue. And as the struggle ensues, documentaries about all aspects of women’s health and rights will continue to be produced, distributed and in demand. Currently, there aren’t many documentaries highlighting the perspectives of women of color on these issues, but here are a few that I highly recommend: Trapped (2016) and True Stories, Hard Choices (2016), by Dawn Porter; Belly of the Beast (2020), directed by Erika Cohn and produced by Angela Tucker; No Mas Babes (2015), by Renee Tajima-Pena; and On the Divide by Maya Cueva. Some of these films are no longer available on public media, so please check the films’ websites for the most recent streaming options.

Next Tuesday, BPM will join WOLB’s talk show, Lunch with Labor, for a discussion about Black women’s health and infertility, featuring filmmakers Stephanie Etienne and Kanika Harris, whose upcoming film, Listen to Me, addresses these issues. Listen at noon on April 17

If you have Black media stories to tell on these topics, please make them. We owe it to our communities and to our nation to ensure the voices of our people are heard on these issues.

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