As I watched the latest wave of abortion bans sweep the country, it became clear to me that this was not just about abortions. It is an attack on our basic human rights, a dismantling of our democracy, and a reminder that this country has a long history of exerting control over women’s bodies – especially those of Black and Brown women.
I believe that those who are most affected by a problem, are the ones best equipped to identify solutions and deliver long-lasting change. Abortion bans affect all who access reproductive health services, however, those most impacted by these abusive policies are poor women, young people and women of color. At the same time, the politicians responsible for these abortion bans, are the same ones that oppose efforts to ensure a livable wage and expand Medicaid, all while supporting voter-suppression measures that target communities of color. In other words, if you’re angry about the criminalization of poverty, voter disenfranchisement or high rates of infant mortality, then abortion access is an issue that should matter to you too.
Vanessa Daniels, Executive Director of Groundswell Fund, called on the philanthropic sector to fund Black and Brown-led grassroot organizations in the states most impacted by these abortion bans. In the funding world, organizations that are based locally and are led by women of color, tend to receive the least funding. Here at Libra, we’ve engaged with our grantees and have spoken with ally funders to better understand which groups are directly confronting and fighting these bans on the ground. From these conversations, we were able to move quickly to provide rapid response support to organizations that are led by women of color in the South (see our press release). For example, one organization in our rapid response cohort is Spark Reproductive Justice Now!. Spark centers the voices of Black women and Queer and Trans people in the state of Georgia and the Southeast to ensure that all individuals have the resources and power to make decisions over their bodies, sexualities, gender, and lives. They do this at the nexus of grassroots organizing, advocacy, civic engagement, health education, and leadership development.
While large-scale national organizations, like Planned Parenthood, remain an integral part of this fight and a critical line of defense at the federal level, they cannot win this battle alone. An approach aimed at supporting both local and national groups is not only necessary, it is crucial to win. Here at Libra, we have answered this call to action and are urging other funders to do the same. In doing so, not only do we challenge the bans, but as funders, we challenge our own history of inequity.