BROOKLYN — News of the United States Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade ricocheted across the country’s Haitian communities over the weekend, drawing concern about the abortion ban’s likely disproportionate impact on black women’s health. Some also pledged to take action to safeguard against the perceived rollback on constitutional rights.
“We already have the bottom end of this deck when it comes to health care, and how we’re treated,” said Martine Jean Baptiste, whose Foundation for Advancement of Haitian Midwives provides women in Haiti with reproductive health services and education.
“This is just going to exacerbate the horrific situation about the care that we will see, or be offered, or educated about, or have access to,” Jean-Baptiste said.
The ban announced June 24 came through a decision on Dobbs versus Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which challenged a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Writing for the Court majority decision, associate justice Samuel Alito, joined by body’s five conservative jurists, said Roe and Casey — two precedents that legalized abortion in the U.S. — had to be overruled.
“The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision,” Alito wrote.
As a result, 26 states in the US are expected to ban abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a sexual and reproductive health advocacy organization. Other social liberal states, including New York and Massachusetts, leaders have moved to protect or expand the right to an abortion.
While state leaders took action, people from a cross-section of communities across the U.S. – online and in massive streets protests – called for abortion to become a federal law of Congress. Sant La, the South Florida-based Haitian service and advocacy organization, is among those in Haitian Americans communities, that pledged to push legislators to take action.
“As a woman-led organization serving immigrant populations, Sant La believes the decision about a woman’s body and her healthcare is unequivocally her choice; one she must make based on her faith, values and circumstances,” the group’s statement said. “Sant La will remain committed to working with local, state and national elected officials as well as our partners and allies to ensure this right is enshrined in law.”
Questions about other rights raised
The concerns of Haitian women don’t stop within the effects on their own health. Many voiced questions about the implications for other social rights granted in the last few decades that could now be threatened by the Court’s conservative majority.
“They’re not going to stop with Roe v. Wade,” said Juvanie Piquant, 22, a New York organizer. “Because if they come for one’s rights, they’re going to come for everybody else’s rights.”
To Shaina Louis, a recent CUNY graduate with a degree in international studies, the decision is a reminder for people to be more engaged civically.
“It’s indicative that we can no longer toe the line in this country [in] terms of what’s holding us back and the term and the activism that we have to engage in,” Louis, 24, said.
“Living in New York City, it’s like a bubble,” added Louis, referring to the state’s liberal leanings. But “what does that [decision] mean for Haitians in Florida.
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