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Adiba Nelson

Source: Liora Dudar / Courtesy of Adiba Nelson 

“You know how they say man plans and God laughs? Well, in my case God damn near fell off the throne, cackling.

Plan B did not work.

I s*** you not.

Those two tiny pills may as well have been tic tacs because no sooner had I placed the cap back on my pee stick and shook my hand free of my own urine, did that damn thing light up pink like a 1980s fanny pack. I was pregnant.”

That is an excerpt from my memoir, “Ain’t That A Mother”, and it is the true tale of how I ended up pregnant when I was certainly trying *not* to be. But here’s the thing – in 2008, I had the option of Plan B (the morning after pill) in my attempt to not bring a child into the world. It wasn’t an abortion – it was the act of keeping an egg from planting itself squarely in my uterus. The choice was mine to make, and though it didn’t work, I’m glad I even had that option. Since then, I’ve used Plan B one other time. I don’t know if it worked or if the timing was just right, but again, I am glad I had the option.

However, with six of the nine Supreme Court judges voting to overturn Roe v Wade and make a woman’s right to make decisions about her own reproductive health up to her state legislature, going forward millions of women in this country may not have the same choice I had. There is a strong possibility that the overturning of that landmark case will open the door for states to also ban emergency contraceptive, such as Plan B, Ella, and emergency IUDs. In an interview with NBC news, Stephanie Parmet, director of the Center for Health Policy and Law at Northeastern University stated that states counties or individual prosecutors who want to ban Plan B or IUDs may now feel they have the ‘tailwind of the Supreme Court behind them’”

I chose to carry my baby to term because actual abortion was never an option for me. However, a woman’s right to choose what she does with her body, specifically the health of her body, has been federally protected for fifty years, and in the matter of a few short weeks and one vote, that right has been stripped away from her. Baby or no baby, I *know* this decision is especially harmful to Black women. Black women historically been deemed liars, hysterical, and immune to pain by the medical profession, so how do we think this decision will play out for the Black pregnant woman with sickle cell anemia whose life is at risk if she carries a baby to term? Or the 13-year-old Black girl who ended up pregnant by any means, and doesn’t have the mental/emotional capacity to care for a child, much less the financial capacity? In 2016, 50 percent of medical residents surveyed by the National Academy of Science endorsed at least one medical lie that had been perpetuated about Black patients, and 12 percent endorsed some of the lies. That same year, the National Institute of Health (NIH) found that the maternal mortality rate for Black non-Hispanic women was three and a half times higher than for non-Hispanic White women. And for deaths six weeks to a year after delivery, the rate for Black women was 3.5 times higher than for that of White women.

If that was in 2016, when a woman’s right to an abortion was federally protected and Black women were not only not being believed about their ills, but also dying at a rate of almost four times that of their White counterparts, we don’t need to imagine what those numbers will look like going forward. We already know. No person, but especially a Black person, knowing what we know about the medical profession and their beliefs about us, should be forced into birth – for whatever reason. Motherhood, though not initially, was my choice. With this ruling by SCOTUS, motherhood, particularly Black motherhood, could very well be a death sentence.

RELATED CONTENT: ‘Ain’t That A Mother’: Author Adiba Nelson Talks Motherhood, Representation And Book Cover Reveal

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