Race, pregnancy and birth, link round up and reply turned post

There has been a lot of comprehensive, thoughtful discussion of race and its intersection with reproduction on the intertubes recently.

Do Black Women’s Reproductive Rights Matter? by Renee at Womanist Musings

Race and the Rights of Childbearing Women by Jill at the Unnecesarean

Women of Color and the Anti-Choice Focus on Eugenics by Pamela Merritt (aka Angry Black Bitch) at RH Reality Check

The Facts About Abortion Rates Among Women of Color by Susan Cohen on RH Reality Check

I wrote a reply on the last post, which I will reproduce here:

When I wrote about this on my own blog recently, a commenter mentioned the recently released movie Maafa 21, which was funded by an anti-choice group out of Texas not known for its civil rights history.

I hope this conversation continues, and the dominant voices aren’t the ones that use the horrible history of blacks in America and eugenics to try to deprive them of reproductive freedoms today. I was searching for a womanist, feminist and racially sensitive review (preferably by a woman of color) of the movie, but was only able to find copied and pasted press releases about how “well argued” it is. I don’t think it’s irrefutable at all, nor do I think laws banning or restricting legal and safe abortion help women of color. Rather, they would be the ones disproportionally getting unsafe abortions. I can only assume most people, including pro-choice and / or womanist women of color, don’t want to sit through the film in order to discuss it. I do think watching it is important, but considering all the important work I agree with that I don’t have time to watch, this film is low on my list. And, it doesn’t use my history to argue against my rights, (just the history of some of my ancestors’ enslavement and oppression of blacks) since I am white, so I can only guess that it wouldn’t be as difficult to watch for me as it would be for a woman of color.

That’s the problem when race and racism intersects with other social issues. And it does. With all of them. The fact that racism shows an effect in abortion rates doesn’t condemn abortion, it condemns racism. Racism is present in heart attack treatment in emergency rooms, but that doesn’t condemn treatment of heart attacks. It affects birth, mode of delivery, place of delivery, complication (morbidity) rates for the mom and the baby including preterm delivery, mortality rates, etc. That doesn’t condemn obstetrics in general, but it indicates that racism is pervasive, and is one of the many issues within obstetrics (and emergency care, and reproductive care) that needs to be examined and improved upon.


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5 responses to “Race, pregnancy and birth, link round up and reply turned post

  1. saynsumthn

    I have watched Maafa21 all the way through – a few times. I thought it was tremendous and well documented. Like you, I encourage everyone to watch the film – get it here- http://www.maafs21.com

    • MomTFH

      I would really appreciate someone who isn’t marketing the movie to speak about the film.

      This is spam language I have seen repeated word for word on many sites, and I am only leaving it up because it is pertinent to my post.

      I do not plan on watching the film any time soon. I don’t even have time to watch propaganda that I agree with.

  2. Such a sad state of affairs. I subscribe to the theory that color is a marker that highlights the gap between the social classes.

  3. Hey —

    Thanks so much for this post. I sort of feel like I’m always going around thanking white people for their sensitivity to race and how it affects healthcare (particularly during childbirth and the prenatal period), which sounds flippant, but in the current whatthefuckery, I’m genuinely pleased to see people “get it.”

    Without clicking over right this moment. I’m assuming that the film that you’re talking about argues the “black genocide” tack of Southern antichoicers — maybe I’ll watch it and post a review for you this weekend. I’m not black, but I’m definitely really sensitive to that argument. I spent some time working with Southern black reproductive justice advocates and that argument really doesn’t hold water with them either.

    For some reason, it’s a refrain that’s getting louder because I think the reasoning is “oooh, liberals like identity politics, THIS will really confuse them.” I don’t know if you’ve ever had an anti-choice person get really smug at you and say “oh yeah, well what if that fetus she’s aborting is a WOMAN? how are you a feminist if you let female fetuses get aborted, hmmmm?” Same thing. Puerile thinking.

    Anyway, I certainly acknowledge that black women are having abortions at rates disproportionate to their representation in the population (although it’s less clear to me what the class breakdown here is), but to try to address that without addressing the underlying social issues that may lead women to need abortions is really putting the cart before the horse. Abortion is a woman’s solution to the problems that an unintended/defective/life-threatening/etc. pregnancy will cause for her health, her life, and her family. Taking away the solution doesn’t take away the problems! And, like, maybe alleviating the problems will help decrease resort to the solution? So, the Latino/a community is disproportionately insulin-dependent because of Type 2 diabetes; is the solution to do away with insulin, or to address the causes of diabetes?

    Dorothy Roberts has written extensively about the sequelae of white control over black bodies, and at no point does she suggest that an answer to this is to restrict black women’s reproductive freedom.

    • MomTFH

      Thanks for the reply! It is a relief to read the writing of other people who “get it”, especially women like us with white privilege. Let me know if you do end up watching that movie.

      If you do have the time, there are links in this post to older posts I have made on race and pregnancy and other issues with racism.

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