port of harlem magazine
mike jones state farm
Black Lawmakers Are Voting Against Abortion Laws
May 23 – June 5, 2019
janine boyd

When the Alabama State Senate passed the controversial bill to make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison for the abortion provider, they did so with no Black support. All 25 votes cast in favor of the bill were from White Republican men.

Since that vote, much of the focus has been on the widespread support the anti-abortion bills have gotten from White Republican men and a surprising number of White females, but very little to the strong resistance Black men and women have provided across the country including in Alabama, Missouri, and Ohio.

Alabama Democrats Senators Linda Coleman-Madison and Vivian Davis Figures were the only women who spoke during the four-hour debate. Both are enslaved African descendents.  Bobby Singleton, who is also African-American, delivered a passionate speech declaring, “​You just said to my daughter, you don't matter!”

Figures also filed an amendment to the bill that would make it a felony for a man to have a vasectomy. It failed.

After the fight, Figures tweeted, “I will continue to stand for the rights of all women to use our God given free will. We are very capable of making great choices.” The only exception in the abortion ban would be when the woman’s health is at serious risk.

The Alabama bill passed 25-6. There are seven Blacks in the Alabama Senate. Joining Coleman-Madison, Figures, and Singleton were Rodger Smitherman and David Burkette.  One Black, Sanders-Fortier, abstained and Priscilla Dunn was out sick.  William Beasley casted the sixth dissenting vote; becoming the only White to join the Black Caucus in voting on this matter.

The 105 member House earlier passed the bill with many not voting, 74 voted yes and three voted no. The no voters were all Black, all Democrats:   Roderick Scott, Mary Moore, John Rodgers.  There are no Black Republican representatives or senators in the Alabama legislature, the cradle of the Confederacy.  There are at least two White Democrats, Beasley and Representative Neil Rafferty.

Alabama is about 27 percent Blacks and about 25 percent of it legislature is Black. However, the Alabama legislature has one of the worst gender rations in the country. Women make up 51 percent of the former Confederate state’s population, but make up only 15 percent of the legislature.

In Ohio, Republicans rejected an amendment calling for the “Exemption for African-American women, whose history includes rape and forced birth imposed on enslaved women and Black women after slavery.”

In Missouri, the final vote for its anti-abortion bill was 110-44, with no Black and no Democratic support. Even the lone Black Republican legislature, Rep. Shamed Dogan, switched his vote to no because he said the bill goes too far. Missouri has 24 Black state legislatures, including four Senators.

In Ohio, all 19 Black legislatures rejected the anti-abortion bill. And, Republicans rejected all 10 Democratic amendments including one calling for the “Exemption for African-American women, whose history includes rape and forced birth imposed on enslaved women and black women after slavery,”  from an abortion-related bill says state representative Janine R. Boyd.

Women make up 28.7 percent of all state legislators nationwide according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nevada leads the nation with 50.8 percent of the state legislature being women.

Return to this issue's Main Page
sign up
follow us on
facebook  pinterest  twitter  youtube
Advertisers | Contact Us | Events | Links | Media Kit | Our Company | Payments Pier
Press Room | Print Cover Stories Archives | Electronic Issues Archives | Writer's Guidelines