Blog: Roe v. Wade and the disproportionate implications for Black women in the United States

July 11, 2022

By Jenna Robinson 


The recent overruling of Roe v. Wade by the United States Supreme Court presents serious challenges for folks in need of abortions and for reproductive rights in general. It is critical that conversations and discussions remain inclusive as this decision not only affects women, members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community may experience extensive harm as a result of this ruling.  

There are important distinctions in abortion and healthcare access among women and marginalized groups. Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous (Native American) Peoples will be disproportionately affected by this overruling which was decided predominantly by white people. This blog post will analyze the devastating effect it will have on Black women in the United States.  

When exploring issues such as this, it is important to amplify and prioritize Black voices. The writer of this blog post is a white settler residing in Amiskwaciy Waskahikan (Edmonton) and references primarily Black voices. When researching this topic on your own, we encourage you to center marginalized voices. 

This blog post is the third installment of a series that discusses what the overruling of Roe v. Wade means, who will be disproportionately impacted, and what abortion and reproductive access is like in Alberta. To read the first two blog posts, click here 

Poverty and Healthcare Access among Black Women  

Experiences of poverty originate from and are reinforced by experiences of racism, sexism, and other systemic inequalities. Black women are disproportionately affected by poverty in the United States (National Partnership for Women and Families, 2018). In 2013, 25.7% of Black women over the age of 18 reported living below the poverty line, causing this population to have the second highest poverty rate among racial and ethnic groups in the country (Status of Women in the States, n.d.). Indigenous (Native American) women were ranked highest, with 28.1% of women over the age of 18 living below the poverty line. Black women on average make 63 cents for every dollar a white man makes in the United States (National Partnership for Women and Families, 2018). The correlation between wage and experiences of poverty among Black women (in addition to many other barriers) affects the money and resources they can dedicate to childcare, food, and healthcare (National Partnership for Women and Families, 2018). 

Black women and other marginalized populations generally receive a lower quality of care from healthcare institutions due to systemic and institutionalized racism. This directly impacts their health and morbidity rates. “Black women are three to four times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than white women” (National Partnership for Women and Families, 2018). Health conditions such as preeclampsia, eclampsia, abruptio placentae, placenta previa, and postpartum hemorrhage account for 26% of pregnancy related mortality in the United States (Tucker, Berg, Callaghan & Hsai, 2007). While white women experience similar rates of pregnancy related health conditions, Black women are 2 to 3 times more likely to die from them. There is a clear discrepancy in access to, and treatment within, healthcare systems for Black women. 

Due to the systemic and institutionalized barriers, abortion rates for Black women have been and will continue to be affected.  Roughly 40% of women who access abortions in the United States are Black and they account for the highest percentage of people who access safe abortions (Lenzen, 2022). As a result, they will be among the most affected by the overturning of Roe v. Wade.  

Implications of Roe v. Wade for Black Women 

The overturning of Roe v. Wade will exacerbate the systemic barriers that influence healthcare access, particularly the access to safe abortion. Maya Richard-Craven (2022) states that the “[lack] of access to a safe abortion is another means of control in a long list of ways that Black women have been suppressed.”  

Since individual states now have the authority to ban abortion, and many have already started, people will have to travel out of state to areas where abortion is still legal and safe, assuming they have the means to do so. However, the higher and disproportionate rates of poverty among Black women will reinforce systemic barriers and create an even greater lack of access due to having less financial and emotional support that can be used towards travel for a safe abortion. This does not mean abortions will stop in states who ban abortion, it means safe abortions will stop.  Those in need of an abortion, who cannot afford to travel, may turn to dangerous, life-threatening alternatives. Legalizing abortion and making it accessible allows those seeking to terminate a pregnancy, an option that promotes their safety and wellbeing.  

Many of those who support the overturning of Roe v. Wade argue that they value all human life and that they do not want anyone dying. A common response made by pro-choice advocates is that this ruling is simply another tool used to control bodies. Intersectional scholars and critics are expanding on this conversation to better encapsulate what is actually occurring; Dr. Melina Abdullah, the cofounder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, argues that this overruling is “a pro-poverty agenda, a racist agenda, a sexist, patriarchal and misogynistic agenda, a control agenda – an agenda that feeds the criminal system of injustice” (Richard-Craven, 2022). This decision has implications beyond abortion and causes threats to other Supreme Court rulings that impact marginalized communities. Rulings such as Griswold v. Connecticut, Lawrence v. Texas, and Obergefell v. Hodges, legalized same-sex marriage and relationships, as well as contraception. In short, analyzing Roe v. Wade through an intersectional lens helps identify the devastating impacts and unique experiences it has on many marginalized communities in society.  

We encourage you to continue the conversation and to engage in materials to help guide these discussions. Please see some of the resources listed below.  

Resources by Black Authors  

Roe v. Wade’s Impact on the LGBTQIA2S+ Community  



Status of Women in the States. (n.d.). “Poverty and Opportunity Full Section”.   

National Partnership for Women and Families. (2018). “Black Women’s Maternal Health: A Multifaceted Approach to Addressing Persistent and Dire Health Disparities”.    

Tucker, M. J. & Berg, C. J. & Callaghan, W. M. & Hsia, J. (2007). The Black-White Disparity in Pregnancy-Related Mortality From 5 Conditions: Differences in Prevalence and Case-Fatality Rates. American Jounral of Public Health, 97:2 (247-251).   

Lenzen, C. (June, 2022). “Facing higher teen pregnancy and maternal mortality rates, Black women will largely bear the brunt of abortion limits”. The Texas Tribune.   

Craven-Richard, M. (July 2, 2022). “Roe v. Wade Has Higher Stakes for Black Women”. The Magazine fo the Sierra Club.  



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