Women of color most impacted if Roe v. Wade overturned, experts say

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If Roe v. Wade is overturned by the United States Supreme Court, experts say women of color will be hit the hardest.

“It’s not an abortion ban that falls on everyone’s shoulders the same way. There are some for which, it won’t be a ban at all,” Sara Stoesz, Planned Parenthood North Central States CEO, said.

Stoesz oversees Planned Parenthood clinics in South and North Dakota where there’s a trigger ban in place. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion bans go into effect.

She explained it’s likely people will travel to other states without bans to get an abortion, if they can afford to.

“A person with some money will have no problem jumping on a plane. It’ll be easy for them,” Stoesz said. “That is not true for people who are low-income, Black, indigenous and other people of color.”

Experts said those who already face barriers accessing healthcare and are low-income will be impacted the most.

“We have to be really careful and really thoughtful about how it’s going to impact Black women as well as other women who are under resourced in many ways,” Dr. Rachel Hardeman, a University of Minnesota public health expert, said.

Dr. Hardeman is the director of the Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity. She conducts research on reproductive health equity.

“We also know that the rate of abortions among Black women is more than three times that of white women,” Dr. Hardeman said. “That’s due to structural inequities in our society things like limited access to comprehensive sex education, limited access to health care and inadequate health care coverage.”

A University of Colorado Boulder study estimates Black maternal deaths could increase by 33% if there’s an abortion ban.

Black women are already three times likely to die during childbirth compared to white women.

Dr. Hardeman explained while conducting research, she often examines the root cause of health inequities in society.

“All of the ways that racism, discrimination and inequity are playing out in people’s lives is impacting health outcomes,” she said. “This is an example of how that’s going to play out just like in other instances.”

Health experts said an abortion ban will widen health disparities and worsen outcomes for people of color.

Stoesz added it will make the job of those who are dedicated to wiping out those disparities that much harder.