Number of Black women who say they are scared of having children rises

March 25, 2024

Nearly two years after the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to an abortion, Black women are increasingly worried about the impact on pregnancy and birth.

Nearly 40 percent of Black women of reproductive age said they feel less safe and think about the risk of death if they become pregnant in the new poll from In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda with PerryUndem, published Monday. One in three living in restrictive states said they have thought about the risk of being arrested due to something related to pregnancy.

“We need life-saving and life-enhancing policies in place that support our reproductive health decisions,” Regina Davis Moss, president and CEO of In Our Own Voice, said. “If and when we do choose to have families, we need policies in place that allow us to do that in safe and sustainable environments.”

The fear is not unfounded. 

Studies show Black people who give birth are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts, while Black infants are two times more likely to die within their first year than white infants. Reasons for the disparities are nuanced, but many point to systemic racism in the healthcare system that dismisses Black women’s symptoms.  

A majority of Black women said they have felt the effects of this racial and gender bias in the health care system, including when pregnant, according to the poll.

Now, 53 percent of respondents identified Black maternal health as an “extremely important” issue. Fourteen percent identified the topic as one of their top five issues. 

Abortion access has become a top of mind issue for Black voters this election year. 

Black voters are six times more likely to vote for a candidate who supports abortion access than one who opposes it, according to the poll.  

Seventy-seven percent of all Black voters said abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Forty-five percent of Black women said the procedure should be legal in all cases. 

Nearly 80 percent of Black voters said they would vote in favor of a state amendment to guarantee the right to make decisions about pregnancy, including abortion. Sixty-nine percent of respondents said decisions about abortion to rest in the hands of the woman or person involved. 

Seventy-nine percent of Black voters said people should be able to get abortion care as early as possible and as late as necessary.  

“The results of this polling show abortion access is a clear, top issue for Black voters,” Davis Moss said. “We need that and more. We can’t just stop at restoring Roe v. Wade. The full spectrum of reproductive care needs to be affordable and accessible for everyone, starting with contraception.”

“Elected officials and those running for office must commit to and uplift a clear Reproductive Justice policy framework that energizes our community to show up at the ballot box and secure our votes,” she added.