AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN ARE FOR REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM
One of the signers, Loretta Ross, explains its history:
"This statement ... originated with a conference call organized by Donna Brazile, then executive director of the National Political Congress of Black Women, because we were strategizing on how to respond to the Webster Supreme Court decision [the 1989 ruling that allowed individual states to restrict access to abortion]. On that conference call, we decided that what was most urgently needed was a statement giving African American women permission to talk about abortion (the original suggestion was made by Byllye Avery). We then published the statement, distributed about 1/4 million copies of it, and the rest is history."
Choice is the essence of freedom. It’s what we African-Americans have struggled for all these years. The right to choose where we would sit on a bus. The right to vote. The right for each of us to select our own paths, to dream and reach for our dreams. The right to choose how we would or would not live our lives.
This freedom – to choose and to exercise our choices – is what we’ve fought and died for. Brought here in chains, worked like mules, bred like beasts, whipped one day, sold the next – for 244 years we were held in bondage. Somebody said that we were less than human and not fit for freedom. Somebody said we were like children and could not be trusted to think for ourselves.
Somebody owned our flesh, and decided if and when and with whom and how our bodies were to be used. Somebody said that Black women could be raped, held in concubinage, forced to bear children year in and year out, but often not raise them. Oh yes, we have known how painful it is to be without choice in this land.