Reading Time: 3 minutes

This morning, I listened to an abortion procedure on NPR, and it was a powerful thing. A patient at a Michigan clinic consented to having her procedure recorded. She wanted to underscore its life-or-death importance in a climate where Michigan citizens will vote next week for an amendment that would enshrine abortion rights into the state constitution in rebuke of a 1931 law whose enforcement would impose a total ban.

The recording was also a beautiful f-you to the white Christian nationalist fascists who want to destroy pregnant peoples’ right to bodily autonomy and economic self-determination. It was a bird flip to ignorant commentary from a male voter on MSNBC who recently dismissed abortion as a “luxury” that was far less important than inflation as a midterm election priority.

To this individual and others like him, repeat after us: Abortion access is not a luxury or a vanity item for suburban white women. It is lifesaving, it is health care, and safe, unrestricted access is critical to the well-being and economic justice of Black, Brown and Indigenous communities. Abortion was ranked as the number two concern among Latinx voters in a National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) poll and is a leading issue among Black voters. Approximately 8 in 10 Black voters disapprove of the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June.

Since then, women and pregnant folks across the nation have had to travel from Midwestern and Southern states for abortion care, often risking their health, jobs, financial status, and sanity. The extreme personal risk required to travel to sanctuary states for abortion care should be placed within the context of a nation that has no universal child care provisions, disgraceful Black maternal mortality rates, skyrocketing child poverty rates (which had temporarily fallen due to the Child Tax Credit, waylaid by Senator Joe Manchin), and a massive wealth gap between white, Black, and Latinx families.

A GOP takeover of the House and Senate after the midterms would deal a devastating blow to human rights in the U.S. Over the past year, SCOTUS’ singular mission to decimate church/state separation, abortion rights and worker protections has been one of the most virulent examples of Trump’s lasting legacy. The GOP threat of a national abortion ban makes passage of amendments like Michigan’s and California’s Proposition 1 essential.

Proposition 1 would enshrine the “fundamental right” to abortion and contraception into the state’s constitution, preventing future administrations from restricting access to folks seeking reproductive care. It would further cement California’s status as an abortion and reproductive health care sanctuary state. Over the past few months, the state has proactively moved to shield pregnant folks traveling to the state for abortion care from surveillance and prosecution. It has encumbered funding for more clinics and services, as well as expanded protections for trans youth.

California Republicans have vilified Proposition 1’s vagueness about “viability”; claiming that the law would permit late-term abortions well beyond the 24-week viability line delineated by the Supreme Court under Roe. Doctors have pushed back on these characterizations, arguing that “viability” is a loaded and essentially meaningless term when considering the diverse circumstances of an individual pregnancy. In May, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists removed the term viability from its guidance on abortion. As NPR notes, “The group explained that the term has become so politicized that it barely has any medical meaning anymore, and deciding whether and when to have an abortion should be left to the patient and doctor.”

That said, opponents of Proposition 1 have invoked the same dangerous anti-abortion propaganda that help enshrine theocratic power, policing, and control over women, queer folks, their families, and communities. Fortunately, 71% of California voters support Prop 1 but knowledge about its existence and implications remain limited among the very Gen Z youth it would provide the most protection for now and in the future.

Indeed, political education about the importance of unrestricted abortion and reproductive care is especially critical in a state where the “fundamental right” to abortion may be solidly protected but access is still inequitable across race and sexuality. For example, although Black women are more likely to utilize abortion care than non-Black women, Black girls across sexuality are more likely to experience victim shaming, blaming, intimate partner violence, gun violence, homelessness, low-wage employment, and other physical, economic, and social pressures when they become pregnant. They are less likely to have access to a culturally competent medical provider while also shouldering the burden of being caregivers and breadwinners at an early age. The high rates of sexual and domestic violence victimization among Black girls make them especially vulnerable to disparities in access to and information about birth control, STI and STD prevention resources. Moreover, the prevalence of domestic and intimate partner violence among Black women overall puts them at greater risk of maternal and child homicide in situations with abusive partners.

The battle over reproductive rights and reproductive justice is a clear and present danger to BIPOC socioeconomic mobility. For far too long, full bodily autonomy has been the province of an elite few. Elite control of bodily autonomy is the foundation of white wealth in a capitalist, white supremacist, patriarchal, colonialist, heterosexist, and ableist society. Gen Z BIPOC futures depend on dismantling these regimes of power, authority, and control.

In a post-Roe society, state constitutional amendments for reproductive freedom are a key step toward reparations.

Avatar photo

Sikivu Hutchinson is an American feminist, novelist, playwright, and director. She is the author of The Rock ‘n’ Roll Heretic (2021), Humanists in the Hood: Unapologetically Black, Feminist, and Heretical...