Black women in the United States who work full time, year-round are typically paid just 62 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men—compared to 82 cents for women overall. For Black mothers, this gap is even more dismal: they earn just 50 cents for every dollar a white, non-Hispanic father makes. About 80 percent of Black mothers are the primary breadwinner for their families, and the wage gap means they have less money to support themselves and their families during these unprecedented times.
In reaching this decision, the Court adhered to its precedent, having found a nearly identical Texas law unconstitutional in the 2016 case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. This case is undoubtedly a victory, ensuring that those most impacted by these bans including low-income women, women of color, trans & non-binary people of color, and those in rural communities will retain access to critical services, but also serves as a reminder that we were only one vote away from precedent being overturned. More than that, attacks on reproductive health remain rampant.
In 29 states and 5 cities, pregnant workers may be entitled to reasonable accommodations during this crisis, including personal protective equipment, the ability to telework, and time off if needed. But women in every corner of the country need and deserve these protections. Congress must also pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act without delay to ensure pregnant workers in every state can receive the accommodations to remain healthy during this crisis and beyond.
Especially amidst the COVID-19 public health crisis, which is disproportionately impacting Black Americans, it’s more important than ever we address the longstanding, structural disparities in our healthcare system and our policies. As data from past epidemics shows, pregnant women may face additional barriers to receiving adequate care as resources are stretched thin, which could worsen existing inequities for Black mothers and babies.
According to SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, reproductive justice is "the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.” In our mission to ensure pregnant workers, caregivers, and all workers have the support they need to care for themselves and their loved ones, we strongly support and are inspired by the principles of the reproductive justice movement.