National Advocates for Pregnant Women mourns the death of George Floyd and the death of every Black person murdered by police forces in the United States. We recognize the systemic problem of police brutality and join the Black Lives Matter movement in calling for immediate and radical change. NAPW will continue to stand with the organizations and individuals speaking out against police violence and all forms of state-sanctioned violence against Black people in the United States. NAPW joins those calling to redirect funds away from police departments and to the communities whose schools, housing, and health care have been deliberately and devastatingly defunded, policed and privatized.
NAPW knows that just as police and prosecutors misuse their authority on the streets, they also do so inside of hospitals and delivery rooms and, too often, do so with the assistance of health care professionals. NAPW will continue to fight against any policing of Black people through the health care system — including reproductive and maternity care. Further, NAPW will continue to fight against the child welfare system that disproportionally targets Black families for monitoring and family separation. Because Black lives matter, we will continue to fight the gross abuses of power exercised by police and child welfare authorities in Black communities, in health care settings, and against Black families.
National Advocates for Pregnant Women, an organization founded and led by a white woman, will continue to learn from, honor, and advance Reproductive Justice, the comprehensive framework developed and articulated by Black women in 1994.
Furthermore, NAPW will continue to ask our allies in the pro-choice and pro-abortion organizations to join us in recognizing and taking action based on the following:
• “My body, my right” must mean more than the right to choose abortion. It must include the right of all Black people to be free of police violence — a knee on a neck, bullets to a back, being stopped and frisked, being sexually assaulted.
• The loss of autonomy or bodily integrity in the context of pregnancy and reproduction is just one manifestation of the idea that some people may control the bodies and lives of others. It is a concept deeply embedded in our country’s DNA through 250 years of African enslavement that continues to this day through the ongoing and unrelenting afterlife of slavery. This idea must be erased in all its forms.
• “Choice” in “pro-choice” is impossible without dismantling the systemic racism and the economic inequalities that deny Black people the resources to make and defend their choices.
• “Choice” in “pro-choice” must also include the right to become a parent and to parent children without fear that they will be murdered by police. It must include addressing the persistent, relentless racism directed on Black women of all economic classes, a racism that has resulted in Black women dying at rates 4 -12 times higher than for white women during pregnancy and childbirth. (For an idea of what relentless racism and its impact on pregnant women looks like, one of many resources is When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele.)
• The war on drugs that has fueled mass incarceration and the criminalization of Black and Brown people is also the model for substituting policing for health care, housing, and jobs. It also provides the basis for policing pregnancy and for arresting women such as Jennie McCormack, Purvi Patel, Kenlissia Jones who used drugs (misoprostol/mifepristone) to end a pregnancy. (To learn about the war on drugs, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander, and some of its impacts on Black women, Killing the Black Body, Dorothy Roberts.)
• It is not enough to fight the so-called “fetal personhood movement” because it would make abortion illegal. We must also recognize and call out this movement as strategically designed to distract attention from daily denial of rights to persons already born and to true personhood movements such as Black Lives Matter.
• Together we must insist on the right to life of Black people including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ramarley Graham, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Eleanor Bumpurs and so many more who have tragically lost their lives to police violence and racial injustice.
In the coming days, months, and years — for as long as it takes — NAPW will continue to work in solidarity with Black women-led reproductive justice organizations, including SisterSong, Women with a Vision , SisterReach and the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, in the fight to ensure Reproductive Justice and to protect the lives of Black people in the United States. In addition, we will continue to work with such organizations as Be Present Inc. to carry out our commitment to support diversity, inclusion, and accountability within our organization. Finally, NAPW recognizes our responsibility to work with white people — including poor white women — to support the changes needed to protect the lives and rights of Black people. For the transformations being called for to be enduring, (go to: https://rj4blacklives.org/ to learn about some of those necessary changes) all of us must support the changes being accomplished now by the extraordinary activism, courage, and leadership of Black people.