Quick hit: Moving forward from past reproductive injustices against black women

Dr. Vanessa Cullins (Vice President for External Medical Affairs at PPFA) and Eleanor Hinton Hoytt (Black Women’s Health Imperative President and CEO, featured in the video above) have co-authored an important piece on The Grio framing recent progress in civil and women’s rights in proper historical context which includes reproductive injustice against women of color. This topic is especially timely because of recent revelations by the Israeli government that Ethiopian women were coerced into accepting long-acting birth control shots, likely Depo-Provera. Cullins and Hoytt write (all emphasis mine):

“As we reflect on how this progress was born from injustice, we are reminded of the many black women whose lives or deeds led the way and changed history. Fannie Lou Hamer, the great civil and voting rights activist, suffered the injustice of sterilization against her will. Without her knowing, Henrietta Lacks’ cervical tumor cultures were used for medical research to create the HeLa Cell Line which is used in scientific research to this day. These are but two of the injustices that spur our hope that the Affordable Care Act will right the continued disparities in care found within our fragmented health care system

We live in a country where people of color are still more likely to be uninsured or under-insured than their white counterparts, and are therefore often delayed in getting the care we need. African-American women are twice as likely to die of cervical cancer as white women. We are more likely to succumb to breast cancer. We have the nation’s highest rate of unintended pregnancy and of the approximately 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in this country, more than half are African Americans.

Our community came out en masse to support President Obama and the Affordable Care Act because we understand that health is important and that prevention is a critical part of being healthy. Thanks to the ACA, 3.8 million African-Americans stand to gain health care coverage, providing millions of women, men, and young people access to preventive care such as lifesaving cervical cancer screenings, breast exams, birth control, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.

We are inspired in this work by the independent, strong black women we see working hard every day, despite the odds, to make better lives for their children. And we are inspired by the courageous and visionary –American health activists who live their lives with the clear purpose of achieving health justice for ALL.

Read the whole piece here. For some extra smart points and a few lol’s along the same lines, check out Louis C.K.’s hilarious bit discussing the concept of historical context with Jay Leno.

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman started blogging with Feministing in 2008, and now runs partnerships and strategy as a co-Executive Director. She is also the Director of Youth Engagement at Women Deliver, where she promotes meaningful youth engagement in international development efforts, including through running the award-winning Women Deliver Young Leaders Program. Lori was formerly the Director of Global Communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and has also worked at the United Nations Foundation on the Secretary-General's flagship Every Woman Every Child initiative, and at the International Women’s Health Coalition and Human Rights Watch. As a leading voice on women’s rights issues, Lori frequently consults, speaks and publishes on feminism, activism and movement-building. A graduate of Harvard University, Lori has been named to The Root 100 list of the most influential African Americans in the United States, and to Forbes Magazine‘s list of the “30 Under 30” successful mediamakers. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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