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Black Southern Women’s Collaborative: We Have Been Summoned to Battle

For Immediate Release

ATLANTA – Following revelations by Politico that the Supreme Court intends to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Black Southern Women’s Collaborative (BSWC) issued the following statement:

“The Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is maddening,” said Ashley K. Shelton, executive director of the Power Coalition for Equity & Justice and BSWC member. “All women should have the right to consider the full range of reproductive health options. To take a viable option off the table – and deny exemptions in cases of rape, incest, mental incapacity, financial ability, or medical risk to the mother, etc. – is unconscionable. We cannot allow the continued denigration of basic rights, and then claim to live in a democratic society.”

“We live in a world where race, gender, class, and sexual identity impact a person’s ability to live and live well,” said Rev. Rhonda Thomas, executive director of Faith in Florida and BSWC member. “Black women – who already face higher maternal mortality rates, higher incidences of intimate partner and domestic violence, and sexual violence – know this well. While we take great pains to improve our lives, Black women are less likely to be gainfully employed, have access to paid time off or affordable health insurance. This is not for a lack of trying as Black women are among the most educated demographics in the nation.”

“Our society is often anti-Black and anti-Black woman, and that results in serious consequences” said Tameka Greer, executive director of Memphis Artists for Change and BSWC member. “Every policy that restricts a woman’s right to choose will have an adverse impact on Black women who experience intersecting oppressions and multiple on-ramps for violation.”

“One of the things we find so egregious is the reasoning Justice Alito provides that if the consultation doesn’t expressly state something then the right has to be rooted in the nation’s history,” said Kendra Cotton, Chief Operating Officer of the New Georgia Project and BSWC member. “What does that mean for Loving v. Virginia, Brown v. Board of Education or Obergefell v. Hodges? There are certain rights that should not be infringed upon, but Justice Alito is seemingly denouncing that logic. They are saying Roe is an abuse of judicial authority and if that is the case, we are in trouble.”

“This ruling reminds us that in America, Black women and women with limited financial means have never been, indeed are not presently, safe,” said Phyllis Hill, founder of the BSWC. “We should all be gravely concerned. If we allow the court to strip our agency in such a pivotal area, rest assured that no right we currently enjoy is tamper-proof. We are moving towards a dreadful place where the government controls all aspects of our lives.”

“Our response in this moment must be to continue organizing, continue turning out to vote, continue running for office and most importantly, to continue fighting,” Shelton concluded. “We have been summoned to battle; and we cannot relent until justice is won.”

The Black Southern Women’s Collaborative is a network of Black women organizing in the South to improve material conditions for Black people. The members of the BSWC pledge to share resources, insights, fundraising strategies, communications and organizing strategies.


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