7 Scary Facts about Reproductive Injustice

By If/When/How Staff

Halloween is a time for all things spooky. But there are things far scarier than goblins, ghosts, and ghouls: reproductive injustice! This Halloween, If/When/How is sharing 7 scary facts about reproductive health, rights, and justice that keep us up at night.

1. Black moms in the U.S. are three and a half times more likely to die in childbirth than white moms. In Texas, black mothers accounted for 11.4% of births in 2011 and 2012, but 28.8% of pregnancy-related deaths.


In the Los Angeles Times article, “The quiet crisis among African Americans: Pregnancy and childbirth rate killing women at inexplicable rates,” doctors and researchers explore the frighteningly high rates of pregnancy-related deaths amongst black mothers in Texas. The article explores the web of institutional racism that disadvantages the pre-pregnancy health of black mothers and further sickens them while they are pregnant. While the conclusions are not definitive, it’s clear that the intersections between racial and economic oppression play a heavy hand in the deaths of black mothers.

2. A majority of states in the U.S. require parental involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion. The Guttmacher Institute reports that many of these states require the consent of at least one parent 24 to 48 hours before the procedures, and some require the involvement of both parents. In the states that allow a minor to receive an abortion without the involvement of either parent by obtaining a judicial bypass, there are still significant barriers to minors who carry the burden of proving their maturity, intelligence, and emotional stability.


As of October 1, 2017, Guttmacher Institute’s research on judicial bypass in the U.S. shows that 36 states that require parental involvement have an alternative process for minors seeking an abortion – to go before a judge. Seven of these states require judges to use specific criteria, such as a minor’s intelligence or emotional stability, when deciding whether to waive a parental involvement requirement. Fifteen states require judges to use the “clear and convincing evidence” standard that the minor is mature and the abortion is in her best interest.

3. People with disabilities are more than three times as likely to be sexually assaulted than non-disabled people and much less likely to report their assault, according to recent data from the U.S. Department of Justice.


Rewire’s article, “How Betsy Devos’ Title IX Actions Will Hurt Students With Disabilities,” explores the ways in which the removal of the “Dear Colleague” Letter from Title IX puts the disabled community at risk. The disabled community, which experiences disproportionately high rates of sexual assault and abuse, suffers many institutional barriers to reporting, including chronic undermining of their voice and agency, the de-sexualization of differently-abled bodies, the risk to mental wellness and stability caused by the system of reporting itself, and the fear of disbelief due to a history of mental illness.

4. Only about half of immigrant women at risk for unintended pregnancy received contraceptive care in the last year. In contrast, two-thirds of U.S. born women received contraceptive care.


The National Women’s Law Center’s April 2017  fact sheet outlines the effects that harsh immigration policies have on immigrants’ access to reproductive health and justice. In addition to a lack of access to contraceptive care, immigrant women are less likely to receive preventative health care such as cervical cancer screening, which often has detrimental consequences. Harsh immigration policies also cause significant barriers to immigrants’ ability to access emergency services and health care services of any kind.

5. Despite reported decreases in maternal death rates worldwide, since 2000, the U.S. has reported rising maternal mortality rates: the U.S. maternal mortality rate (26.4 deaths per 100,00 live births) is almost three times higher than the United Kingdom (9.2), more than three-and-a-half times higher than Canada (7.3), and almost seven times higher than Finland (3.8).


In addition to reporting the alarming statistics surrounding the rising maternal mortality rate in the U.S., Bustle reports in “America’s Maternal Death Rate is Rising &It’s Completely Preventable” the equally alarming lack of attention these rising rates have garnered. According to NPR, in 2016, states devoted only about 6% of block grants to programs for mothers compared to 78% for infants and special needs children.

6. Only 5% of the world’s female population lives in the U.S., yet nearly one-third of all the female prisoners in the entire world are located here.


In “Here’s How Prison and Jail Systems Brutalize Women, Especially Mothers,” MomsRising.org chronicles the many ways that mass incarceration harms women, particularly low-income women of color. From shackled deliveries that still occur even in states that have anti-shackling laws, to the oppressive bail system (which is responsible for the 60% of women in jail simply awaiting a trial), the prison and jail system dehumanizes and abuses women at all stages of their reproductive health journey.

7. By August 2017, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) had collected information on 19 hate-violence homicides of transgender and gender non-conforming people, compared to a total of 19 reports for the entire year of 2016. Sixteen of these homicides were of transgender women of color.


In their 2017 report, NCAVP reported that there has been a steady rise of reports of homicides of transgender and gender non-conforming people. Of the 19 reported hate –violence related homicides reported so far this year, 14 were black transgender women. In addition to this alarming trend, NCAVP also reports an increase in reports of anti-LGBTQ homicides. Fifty-three percent of these incidents were men of color.