By Lorna Kendrick, PhD
This article is dedicated to all women and their loved ones who have suffered silently because of biases towards female reproductive choice. As we as a community ponder Roe v Wade, we must pause and consider this is not simply about abortion. This is about human rights not politics or societal dogmatism, equity for those most vulnerable and at risk, and freedom for all, not just for an elitist few.
During my doctoral education in the early 1990’s the buzzword or answer to achieving health equity for Black America was “access” to care. Data showed, with access we could change the poorer outcomes we were seeing in our communities. As a woman and as a researcher who has dedicated my entire career to improving care for all, in particular my community, I am beyond outraged when I think about the decision to overturn Roe v Wade, a decision never steeped in data only personal beliefs and opinion. Frederick Douglass once said, “I expose slavery to this country, because to expose it is to kill it.” I hope my words on this page expose this new form of slavery, hatred, and destruction of our community, through the overturning of laws and redistricting of voting lines, helps support efforts to “kill it.”
I am outraged. There are groups and individuals determined to deny the rights and freedoms of others and force their beliefs on the populous of this nation. How did we become a nation where, if you believe something, I too must believe exactly as you? How can I support a nation where one of my loved ones was gang raped in the military and was forced (pre-Roe v Wade) to have the child? A nation where she never received needed resources to support, nurture, or help her heal from the trauma. This healing did not happen, because it is just too taboo of a subject to acknowledge in our perfect society where she, as a woman of color, is invisible and not as valued. Many of these women often live out their entire lives both reliving the trauma and navigating a life of poverty unable to provide for her child/children.
Sadly, a growing part of our society has demonized those seeking abortion in such a way, although legal, this choice continues to wreak havoc in the minds of women and others. Some in our society posit an inaccurate ideology where women are viewed as choosing abortion as if they were ordering a cup of coffee, with little to no mental or emotional struggle. As a nurse with years of experience and as a therapist and researcher in the area of mental wellness, I can emphatically say, women I have seen in my practice have struggled a lifetime with their decisions. Their mental and emotional wellbeing suffered because they were indoctrinated by our society to believe they were awful human beings for making this kind of decision. They bought into the belief that the most important part of being a woman was to bring life into the world and if they chose not to, they were the scum of the earth and doomed to eternal death.
Within the Black community, we have historically accepted the downtrodden and nurtured our own. Share your stories with your daughters and sons (dads too). Talk to them let them know you love them unconditionally. This does many things. First, it increases their self-worth and decreases the likelihood of unintentional pregnancy. This also increases the likelihood they will come to you if something happens. This also increases the likelihood they will not try to end an unintentional pregnancy on their own or through a backdoor illegal abortion, as did so many from my generation.
Prevention coupled with love and acceptance can be the saving grace of our powerful Black community. We know the strength of grassroots efforts. Let us begin to take control of our own future and stop waiting for society to help us turn the tide. This is a time for action, not silence.
Lorna Kendrick Ph.D is currently serving as Dean of the Samuel Merritt University College of Nursing. She is the first Dean of Color in their 113-year history. She also served as President-elect for the California Association of Colleges of Nursing (CACN), and worked for many years in neuro/surgical ICU and as an Advanced Practice Child/Adolescent Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist, while maintaining a small private practice.
In the June 29, edition of the Post in Dr. Martha Taylor’s article on “Roe v. Wade-A Divided Nation,” she advised the community of readers to respond by going to the polls in local areas and voting for people who will support your choices and beliefs because they will determine the outcomes in your states. Dr. Martha Taylor has invited guest contributors and experts to submit articles, opinions and advice for publication.
The Post News Group will publish articles that will discuss the fallout from the reversal of Roe v Wade. Professionals will be invited to discuss, the theology, sociology, political, and medical impact from the Roe v Wade abortion reversal. In the meantime, Dr. Taylor is asking the readers to continue to pray for Brittany Griner who has just pled guilty and remains incarcerated in a Russian prison.
The post COMMENTARY: Roe v Wade – Considerations for the Black Community first appeared on Post News Group. This article originally appeared in Post News Group.