Mainstream feminists of the 1960s and 1970s regarded the issue of reproductive rights as exclusively the winning of legal abortion, without acknowledging the racist policies that have historically prevented women of color from bearing and raising as many children as they wanted. History of the birth control movement and its racist sterilization programs necessarily make the issue of reproductive rights far more complicated for Black women and other women of color, who are and have been targets of this abuse. Twentieth-century birth-control pioneer Margaret Sanger from her early days as a feminist to her conversion to the eugenics movement, an openly racist approach to population control based on the slogan, “[More] children from the fit, less from the unfit.”
In launching the “Negro Project” in 1939, Sanger’s American Birth Control League argued, “[T]he mass of Negroes, particularly in the South, still breed carelessly and disastrously.” In a personal letter, Sanger confided, “We do not want word to get out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to their more rebellious members.”
Racist population-control policies left large numbers of Black women, Latinas, and Native American women sterilized against their will or without their knowledge. In 1974, an Alabama court found that between 100,000 and 150,000 poor Black teenagers were sterilized each year in Alabama.
New legislation is on a fast track in our State House of Representatives, and will make safe abortion services virtually inaccessible to Michigan women.
While recently we’ve seen Virginia require abortion providers to follow unnecessary and burdensome regulations, Oklahoma ban safe, evidence-based uses of medications to perform early, non surgical abortions, and Georgia and Arizona ban abortions during a time in pregnancy when a woman might find out something has gone seriously wrong, Michigan politicians are attempting to do all three – and more – with one vote.
This sweeping and unprecedented assault on women endangers nearly all aspects of reproductive health care by trying to shut down health centers that provide abortion services. Doctors have come out against this legislation in droves because they know that medicine, not politics, should dictate how they treat their patients.
Denying women access to basic health care is not only offensive and wrong, it is out of touch. This year, people in Michigan and all over the country, have made it clear that we don’t want politicians restricting access to woman’s health care. With Ohio and Michigan bordering one another a similar demonstration will be imperative for Ohio attempt to modify our legislation of reproductive justice!!!