In today’s Well I Didn’t Know That! post, I feature an article in BBC History magazine which is topical to my reading theme for this month. Over the course of February, I am picking up multiple books inspired by the fact that it is black history month.
I would like to stress that whilst the topic I’m going to discuss is a controversial one, my views are going to remain impartial in this post. I’m sure a lot of people have a lot of opinions, and I won’t encourage people to get political about it. That’s not what my blog is about. Instead, I am using this post to highlight historic racial injustice when it comes to abortion access and the rhetoric used.
BBC History – The Long Fight Over Abortion Rights in the US
I told you the topic was a controversial one. So much so, debated even publishing the post at all. As a compromise, I’m deliberately going to turn the comments off on this post and social media. This post isn’t an invitation to express your opinion. Whilst I would normally encourage any interaction on my blog, we are avoiding any confrontation by switching off this one.
Instead, this post is to emphasise something I learned as a result of this article. Throughout history, abortion and the rights of women versus the rights of children has been a sore subject. But did you know that access to abortions, even during a time when they weren’t strictly legal, has been very dependent on race? If you want to take a look at the article itself, it can be found in the February 2023 edition of the magazine, starting on page 14.
You would like to think that regardless of your heritage or your skin colour, that women are perceived as just that. Especially when it comes to medical aid and care, it shouldn’t make a difference. That’s not to say it comes to pass that way. As I have learnt recently in reading Becoming by Michelle Obama, Black Americans in Chicago would not reach out for help medically, largely due to lack of trust. Her own father suffered with multiple sclerosis and would not seek out help until much too late. He suffered on, never missing a day of work.
Racial inequality over access to abortion
As the BBC History article points out, even when it comes to female care, access to abortion (and even coercion into both abortion and sterilisation) was made more readily available to black people, but denied of anyone classified as white. Some argued that such was “essential to stop the multiplication of the unfit for racial betterment”.
Frankly, I think this is disgusting. It comes from a distinct lack of representation of black people (largely a result of other inequalities, preventing access to education/opportunities etc), and a misguided belief of white supremacy in those who did pull the strings. I had no idea that such prejudice even existed in the abortion argument. It is hard for somebody so open minded to consider that other people are not, or have historically not been, so.
Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on, there are radical and controversial views that colour the argument. My firm belief is that treatment of individuals, access to healthcare and human rights should not depend on your heritage. It shouldn’t matter what colour your skin is, or where your parents came from. We should all have equal access.
With the recent re-emergence of this argument, it is important to highlight disparities that have come before. Mainly, to make sure they don’t happen again.