Even with talk of the fiscal cliff and sequestration, it can be hard to wrap our heads around the fact that there are people working hard to make ends meet who nonetheless can’t pull together enough money for an unexpected medical expense.
It’s tough knowing there are people in my community who might have to face the harsh reality of deciding between the health care they need and paying rent or buying groceries. The fact is that people of color often experience poor health outcomes as a result of inadequate financial and physical access to preventive services and health care. This is especially true for reproductive health care.
Due to unfair policies that deny insurance coverage of abortion care, there are many women who simply cannot afford it. There are efforts underway to change this as advocates at the state and national level work hard to raise awareness about the harmful restrictions on coverage and funding of abortion care and the disparate impact that these policies have on low-income people and women of color.
A new poll examining African-American attitudes on abortion and contraception reveals deep support for insurance coverage of reproductive health care, including abortion, and for the right of all people to make their own health-care decisions.
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This nationally-representative poll from Belden Russonello Strategists found that African Americans overwhelmingly support keeping abortion legal and believe that women in our community should have access to safe abortion care when they need it. It also found that a majority of African Americans agree that abortion should be covered by health insurance and be available from health-care providers in their communities.
The findings revealed that:
- A large majority (89 percent) of African Americans agree that individual decisions about when and whether to continue a pregnancy should be left up to the individual woman in question.
- Fully 80 percent of the individuals surveyed agree that regardless of how they personally feel about abortion, it should remain legal and women should be able to get a safe abortion.
- More than three-quarters (76 percent) of African Americans agree that health insurance should cover abortion to ensure that when a woman needs to end her pregnancy she will be able to see a licensed, quality health-care provider.
The poll also showed strong support (85 percent) for the idea that when it comes to abortion, we should trust Black women to make the important personal decisions that are best for them and their families. Black women face extraordinary challenges to accessing care, including policies like the Hyde Amendment that unfairly restrict coverage of abortion and disproportionately impact women of color.
For a woman to be able to make a real decision, she has to be able to afford care. Whether she chooses adoption, seeks an abortion, or decides to become a parent, she will need the health-care services and support that are so often withheld because of political agendas that do not put women’s health first.
These agendas only do a disservice to women and to the people of this country. I believe in a United States that stands for fair treatment and lending a helping hand when people are in need. This poll shows commitment to those values and to supporting our community. As an advocate for reproductive health, rights, and justice, I am particularly heartened by the strong support for health insurance coverage of abortion care to ensure that a woman’s decision is not limited by her income or type of insurance.
If we’re going to reach our full potential as a nation, we have to be willing to step out in support of women who are trying to make the best decision for themselves given their unique circumstances. That means health insurance plans should cover all the medical services that a woman might need in her lifetime: contraception, well woman care, maternity care, and abortion care.
We need to take information from the countless reports that have been written on health equity and access to reproductive health care along with our knowledge of our communities and put them into action. We need policies that make it easier for a woman of color to continue a pregnancy if she wants to and raise her family in a safe and healthy environment. Instead of limiting a woman’s decisions, we need solutions that safeguard women’s health and improve her ability to act on what she knows to be the best decision for her, no matter what that decision may be.