I had heard about this grotesque attack on women of color and our families from our allies at SisterSong and Black Women for Wellness. I just couldn’t believe they had decided to post the billboards here, in Oakland of all places. This is our city, a place full of local pride, a hotbed of cultural festivals like the Malcolm X Jazz festival and community activism from climate justice to youth organizing, and a city with its own Gay Pride celebration. We even have a long-time congressperson who is staunchly anti-war and pro-choice, Representative Barbara Lee.
Why here? It just does not seem like our city would give this a warm welcoming.
But then it made me think about the seemingly fragile state of pro-choice issues… attacks on Planned Parenthood at the federal level and through many states which have led to the loss of funding and critical services. The billboards have felt like part of an all out assault on access to reproductive health—this attack is being waged through health care reform (making it very difficult for insurers to cover abortion); through hidden camera stings on Planned Parenthood, through measures in many states criminalizing abortion, or defunding providers. The billboards have often come on the front end of these attacks, placing a wedge in communities of color.
I believe every woman (young and old) has the right to decide when she wants to be a mother. Only when women are able to make the best decision for themselves and their families, are we able to have families and communities that thrive.
As the mother of a soon to be 1-year old, my heart opens to the photo of the newborn. Yes. I believe life is precious. And I support every effort to provide prenatal care, affordable childcare, quality education, living wage jobs, clean air, and everything else our communities need to thrive.
Share your thoughts on our Facebook page, and stay tuned to the page and our blog for action steps. We look forward to working with our fabulous allies in Oakland and around the state to push back and stand strong.
For a background on the billboards, including who is funding them, where else they have been, and how reproductive justice groups around the country have organized against them, please see this collection of articles at RH Reality Check.