COLUMBUS- The Ohio Black Maternal Health Caucus (OBMHC) today issues a statement in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson, overturning the right to an abortion previously established under Roe v. Wade. The impacts of which will have dire effects on generations of Black women, families, and communities.
“We are outraged as this ruling is an attack on reproductive freedoms and continues to exacerbate the inequities in healthcare access. This will create very real and harsh outcomes for Black Women across Ohio,” said Rep. Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati), co-chair of the OBMHC.
With this ruling, the racial and socioeconomic disparities in maternal infant health and mortality will only continue to grow. While many women in the United States will certainly suffer as a result of this, women of color will be the most affected and further disenfranchised. Minority women are more likely to live in states with the most restrictive abortion laws and are also more likely to experience barriers to abortion and other reproductive and maternal health services. In almost every aspect of reproductive health, women of color have poorer health outcomes than white women.
A recent study from Duke University estimates that non-Hispanic Black women will be the most burdened by restrictions on abortions, in terms of risk and additional deaths, further antagonizing the great racial disparities in maternal health. Additionally, the research asserts that, “increasing Black women’s exposure to the risk of pregnancy-related mortality because their wanted abortions are denied would exacerbate an existing public health crisis.”
In Ohio, Black women died at a rate more than two and a half times that of white women, according to the 2019 Ohio Department of Health Report on Pregnancy-Associated Deaths. Over 60% of Ohioans agree with the Roe v. Wade decision to allow access to abortion. Despite this, Ohio Republicans continue to prioritize legislation to ban abortion, including the 6-week abortion ban signed into law by Gov. DeWine in 2019. House Bill 598 and Senate Bill 123 are current pieces of legislation that would completely ban abortion in Ohio without any exceptions for rape, incest or to protect the health of the mother.
It is clear that Ohioans believe in the freedom and personal responsibility to leave the important decisions about when, where and how to access healthcare to individuals. In response, Ohio House Democrats have also recently introduced House Joint Resolution (HJR) 5, a constitutional amendment that would ensure all people have the freedom to make decisions about their bodies and healthcare. This includes the ability to obtain surgical and medical abortion services. Additionally, the amendment would codify the right to access and use contraceptive devices and medications.
HJR 5 still awaits assignment to a House committee and a first hearing.