The reversal of Roe v. Wade harms immigrants and communities of color

By NJFON Co-Executive Directors Melissa Bowe & Alba Jaramillo

Last Friday—June 24, 2022—our nation’s highest court overturned Roe v. Wade (1973) ending nearly 50 years of constitutional precedent. The ruling came in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which concerned a Mississippi law prohibiting almost all abortions past the 15th week of pregnancy.

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution does not provide the right to abortion, while also signaling an attack on a wider array of privacy rights. About half of the states are now set to outlaw or impose stricter restrictions on abortion. Thirteen of these states have “trigger laws”—bans designed to take effect immediately following the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

National Justice for Our Neighbors condemns this decision and its horrific implications on fundamental reproductive, civil, and human rights. We believe in justice and the inherent dignity of everybody regardless of race, gender, or immigration status. We are saddened, we are outraged, and we will not be silent about it.

The reversal of Roe is an attack on all women, girls, and childbearing people, but it is particularly detrimental to those of color who are more likely to experience barriers to abortion and reproductive healthcare services. Furthermore, those who are pregnant and Black experience maternal mortality rates two to three times higher than those who are white. Pregnancy-related deaths are expected to increase by 21 percent nationwide and 33 percent among Black communities.

Put yourself, for a moment, in their shoes. You are an undocumented woman in a state where abortion is banned. You don’t speak English, you are poor, you cannot lawfully drive, and you live in a border state. In order to travel across state lines where abortion is legal, you must first cross through multiple border patrol checkpoints and risk deportation.

Should you, by chance, find a provider in the state where you reside who is willing to perform an abortion, or you find a person willing to help you self-induce an abortion, you run the risk of being charged with a crime. Criminal charges will end your opportunities for lawful immigration status. You are now deportable or have heightened your risk of detention. It may also impact your eligibility—under immigration law—as a “good moral character,” thus making you “undeserving” of immigration benefits.

The reversal of Roe further criminalizes migrants and will be measured in deaths, incarceration, family separation, and life-altering trauma. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu stated, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

We choose the side of childbearing people who have an inherent human right to control their own reproductive destinies. We stand in solidarity with them and demand our lawmakers immediately codify Roe v. Wade.

Members from our JFON affiliates in three “trigger law” states—Tennessee, Kentucky, and Texas—weigh in on what this ruling means to their respective communities:

“Tennessee is one of the 13 states that had trigger laws in place when the Supreme Court overturned Roe. Beginning in late July, almost all abortions will be banned in the state, including in cases of rape and incest. This will have an outsized impact on those with fewer resources such as the immigrant communities we serve, who contribute so much to Tennessee.”

 —Emily Webb, Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors

 

“Women, trans men, and non-binary people who can become pregnant deserve access to safe, legal abortion in Kentucky and throughout the United States. Kentucky’s new “trigger” law is dangerous and cruel, and it highlights that we are living in the shadow of the march toward fascism. The government’s restriction on abortion access is an infringement on bodily autonomy, an egregious violation of human rights, and it is just the beginning. It is incumbent on us to fight for abortion access and for all our individual rights.”

 —Jesús Ibañez, Neighbors Immigration Clinic

 

“The overturning of Roe v. Wade is devastating for Texas, and especially for our border communities. This decision means that Texans will now have to travel out of state to access abortion care, which requires crossing a border patrol checkpoint for anyone traveling more than 100 miles from the border. The impact of this is that undocumented people in our community have completely lost access to yet another critical service. This decision will leave numerous victims in its wake, as our systems are not equipped to deal with the consequences. Our foster care system in Texas is already overloaded, with over 29,000 children currently in custody.” 

—Jannette Mondragon and Kristen Bowdre, JFON El Paso

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