Giving Compass' Take:
- While abortion access was always difficult for Indigenous communities, the reversal of Roe v Wade has made it even more challenging.
- Indigenous women face high rates of sexual assault and violence and need access to reproductive healthcare, including abortions. How can donors help support these communities' needs?
- Learn more about reproductive justice here.
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Since the reversal of Roe v. Wade a year ago, demand for the organization’s services has skyrocketed. The group funded 37 abortions in 2019, 600 in 2022 and over 300 in the first six months of this year. From January to June, it’s spent more to help people than in all of 2022.
“We’re investing more money into … airfare, bus, gas, child care, elder care, after care for the individual who’s getting an abortion,” Lorenzo said. “If there are special needs that they have, we do our best to fund that, as well.”
Indigenous people have been uniquely affected by the end of Roe.
Abortion was never readily available to Native Americans, thanks to a federal law that has prohibited nearly all abortions at Indian Health Service clinics since 1976. That’s always meant traveling long distances for the procedure.
But now states with some of the largest Indigenous populations also have some of the strictest restrictions on abortion: places like North and South Dakota and Oklahoma, home to the Cherokee Nation, the second-largest tribe in the U.S. with over 300,000 enrolled members.
Across the country, some 2 million Native Americans live in the 20 states with laws on the books banning abortion at 18 weeks of pregnancy or earlier, according to a News21 analysis.
“There are clinics closing, providers moving out of those states that we have served or serve, and so we’re seeing more people need to travel from very rural states in order to get abortion care,” Lorenzo said.
Add into the mix disproportionate rates of sexual assault and unintended pregnancy, a crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, high rates of maternal mortality, and poor access to preventative care and contraception, and the end of Roe has made a bad situation much worse.
“Roe has never been accessible for Native women,” said Lauren van Schilfgaarde, a tribal law specialist at UCLA who has studied abortion care in Indigenous communities. “When you add in the rates of violence and the complete gutting of tribal governments’ abilities to respond, you have a real dangerous recipe in which Native women have a lack of reproductive health.
Read the full article about abortion access for Indigenous peoples by Noel Lyn Smith and Maddy Keyes at The19th.