As a staff and the professional association of abortion providers, the National Abortion Federation stands in solidarity with The Movement for Black Lives; our allies in the Reproductive Justice movement; the people of color on our staff, in our membership, and among the patients we collectively serve; as well as the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and every other person whose life has been taken by the violence of racism. These senseless killings shine a light on the systemic racism and white supremacy that pervade so much of our society. We know that these systems of hate and oppression affect the lives and safety of Black people every day and that we must speak out and condemn these murders and the systems that allow them to happen, as silence and complacency only serve to condone these injustices.
We are in the midst of a global pandemic that is tearing through the communities that we serve, disproportionately impacting Black and Brown communities. At the same time, all over the country these same communities continue to experience horrific interactions with law enforcement and vigilantes who take it upon themselves to police the activities and control the bodies of Black people.
Throughout the world, people are marching in the streets in the name of George Floyd. It is our hope, it is our demand, that in the words of Congressman John Lewis, that “we are on our way to greater change.” Racism touches every aspect of life in the U.S. and Black and Brown people not only suffer the obvious injustices of such racism but also pay the daily emotional tax that this pernicious inequity and recurring terrorism impose.
We at NAF know that, for example, Black and Brown abortion providers and clinic staff experience compounding sources of oppression and discrimination that add a toll and terror to their daily lives, which those of us with the safety of unearned white privilege cannot fully imagine. Given the history and reality of violence targeting abortion providers, our members often must rely on law enforcement, even though it may not be safe for them to interact with these agencies.
We know that the Black and Brown clients our Hotline and our members serve face inordinate economic and health pressures that affect the choices available to them; the freedom to act on those choices; and the ability to enjoy, free from oppression and terrorism, the fullness of life that all people deserve.
And we know that, while these injustices and the struggle against them, affect each and every one of us, all of us—especially those who carry white privilege—must listen to our Black and Brown colleagues for both analysis and direction.
As an historically white organization, led by a white leader, we must actively engage in the daily—and daunting—work to dismantle systems of oppression and ensure our organization and broader communities are places where people of color are safe and affirmed. We must educate ourselves and use our privilege to move toward a world that respects every one of our bodies, our minds, and our humanity. We commit to deep listening—to our members, the patients we serve, and our Reproductive Justice colleagues. We commend to your attention these RJ organizations, which have long exercised this leadership, including SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, Black Women for Wellness, Black Women’s Health Imperative, SisterLove, Inc., and SPARK Reproductive Justice Now.
We commit to deep listening to our own hearts—to find and nurture every last measure of our compassion, our courage, and our outrage—so that we can and will act upon what we hear.
We commit to speaking up and standing up and refusing to settle for empty promises and false peace. At times, we may need to step forward without being able to see, or perhaps even imagine, how those individual steps can possibly solve such massive and entrenched problems. It will not be an easy task, and we will likely have missteps along our journey. But we are committed to tackling inequity within the NAF community and beyond and creating a more inclusive and equitable future for Black people, including our members and the patients we serve.
# # #
The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is the professional association of abortion providers. Our members include individuals, private and non-profit clinics, Planned Parenthood affiliates, women’s health centers, physicians’ offices, and hospitals who together care for approximately half the women who choose abortion in the U.S. and Canada each year. Our members also include public hospitals and both public and private clinics in Mexico City and private clinics in Colombia. NAF unites, represents, serves, and supports abortion providers in delivering patient-centered, evidence-based care.