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In any discussion of abortion rights in America, it’s useful to know who the players are, but it’s also good to front-load your brain with some numbers and facts. You might want to find out, for example, who ends up being targeted in the right wing’s drive to erase 50 years of American women’s constitutionally protected ownership of their own bodies. Things like what group has the most legal abortions compared to their numbers in the general population. Or whether you’re more apt to die from an abortion or from carrying a child to term.

Let’s start with some numbers (we’ll talk about the players later on)...

Of the estimated 930,000 women who have abortions in the U.S. in a year:

• 75% are poor or low-income

• 28% are Black (Black people account for 12.4% of the population)

• 25% are Hispanic (18.7% of the population)

• 39% are white (61.6% of the total) 

• 60% are in their 20s

• 12% are in their teens

• 59% already have at least one child

And a few more...

• 0.41 — deaths for every 100,000 legal abortions in the U.S.

• 23.8 — maternal deaths for every 100,000 U.S. deliveries

• 1 — where the U.S. ranks among 11 developed countries in rate of maternal mortality 

• $286,000 — the cost of raising a middle-class child in 2022

• 12.6 million — approximate number of American children living in poverty, of whom 25.4% are Black and 23.9% are Latino

• 2020 — the year when children of color were projected to become the majority of America’s children

It’s generally agreed by players on both sides of the abortion argument that poor women of color will bear the heaviest economic costs of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, with Black women taking the biggest hit.

Kate Bahn is the director of labor market policy and chief economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. She joined 153 other economists in filing an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, explaining how Roe changed Black women’s lives in 1973: “... the estimated reduction in birth rate was two to three times greater than the reduction for white women. Black women also experienced a 28 to 40% decline in maternal mortality due to legalization [in 2020, the Black maternal mortality rate was 55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, 2.9 times the rate for white women].” The amicus brief also supplied plenty of research to show how abortion rights have strengthened economic security for Black women in the workforce. (The Court didn’t give a damn, but you might; it’s at tinyurl.com/154-amicus.)

Bahn, in an MSNBC opinion piece, said “... in a labor market marred by racial and gender discrimination, bodily autonomy is an especially relevant economic issue for women of color. The leaked opinion tried to argue that abortion access has been detrimental to Black communities. In addition to removing Black women’s agency, this claim ignores that research shows the opposite: bodily autonomy is even more critical for Black women and other women of color. For example, economists Kelly Jones and Mayra Pineda-Torres found that living in a TRAP law state [Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers laws pile burdens on abortion clinics through extra requirements] prior to age 18 reduced the likelihood that Black women were able to start and finish a college degree, inevitably limiting opportunities for economic security.”

OK, so this is where we talk about those players — the radical right wing of what’s left of the GOP, the ones who are working to outlaw women’s right to choose in all states now and some who’d like to deny access to contraception, too.

We were somewhere in Springs traffic the other day when Colorado Public Radio aired a segment on Clara Brown, the Black former enslaved person who was auctioned off and separated from her four children when she was 35, freed when she was about 60, and who became an entrepreneur and philanthropist in Colorado during the Gold Rush. When Clara was born in 1800, the American government said it was perfectly legal for her body to be controlled and her education and economic destiny constricted.

And here we are today, with a new kind of American slavery (brought to you by the same folks who do want schoolchildren to learn about plucky Clara Brown, the Angel of the Rockies, but not about the system that made it OK for her to be auctioned away from her babies.)

Anyway, because every editorial is supposed to include a call to action, here’s ours: 

• Make sure every eligible sane person you know is registered to vote and does vote in the midterm elections.

• Ask every candidate for every race to clearly state their position on abortion rights (and don’t let them get away with lying like Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch did during their confirmation hearings). Remember, even Board of County Commissioners candidate Holly Williams told a group of the Republican faithful that she’s working to turn El Paso County into a home rule county to make it difficult or impossible to get abortion care here.

And finally...

• Ask every incumbent to list every action they’ve ever taken against supporting pregnant women, children and poor families. (This will take CD5 Rep. Doug Lamborn a very, very long time.)