In Our Own Voice

Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls Testimony on Reproductive Justice

April 28, 2016

I want to thank Representatives Bonnie Watson-Coleman, Robin Kelly and Yvette Clarke and the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls.

My name is Marcela Howell and I am the founder and executive director for In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda

In Our Own Voice was created in November 2014 as a national Reproductive Justice policy organization to increase the visibility of Black women and girls at the national and state levels in our ongoing policy fight to secure Reproductive Justice for all women and girls. Ours is a national-state partnership with seven Black women’s organizations: Black Women for Wellness in California, Black Women’s Health Imperative a national organization, New Voices for Reproductive Justice in Pennsylvania and Ohio, SisterLove, Inc., in Georgia, Sister Reach in Tennessee, SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW in Georgia and Women with a Vision in Louisiana.

In Our Own Voice provides an opportunity to have Black women and girls speak for ourselves and present a proactive strategy to advance reproductive health, rights and justice, including the right to safe and legal abortions, contraceptive equity and comprehensive sex education.

Distinguished committee, we applaud your leadership in recognizing the need to lift up Black women and girls. It brings to mind a quote from 1892 said by Anna Julia Cooper, a Black suffrage advocate, “Only the Black woman can say when and where I enter, in the quiet, undisputed dignity of my womanhood, without violence and without suing or special patronage, then and there the whole…race enters with me.”[1]

Black women have always led. Often we were the only ones decrying injustices against us, our families, our communities and in the Diaspora. Indeed, It is this spirit that birthed the Reproductive Justice movement.
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Written Testimony from Black Women Reproductive Justice Organizations

House Judicial Subcommittee on Constitution and Civil Justice
Hearing on H.R. 4924
Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) of 2016

Written Testimony from Black Women Reproductive Justice Organizations

April 14, 2016

We write to you in one voice on behalf of Reproductive Justice for Black women, immigrant women, young women and low-income women. We, the undersigned organizations, write to state for the record that we are adamantly opposed to the proposed Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), H.R. 4924.

This legislation, as with similar federal legislation introduced in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013 , is a blatant attempt to limit abortion access and is an affront to Black women’s right to decide what is best for us and our families. Since it was first proposed in 2008 it has served as a blueprint for states to introduce “race- and sex-selection” abortion bans. As of March 2016 eight states ban abortions for reason of sex selection, one state prohibits abortions for reasons of race, and one state prohibits abortions when the fetus may have a genetic anomaly. The attack on abortion continues at all levels, and is relentless and strategic.
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In Our Own Voice on Celebrating the 43rd Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Statement by Marcela Howell, Founder and Executive Director

“As President Obama concluded his last State of the Union, his message to the American people was clear, if a little unconventional. He set low expectation of working with the conservative-controlled Congress in his remaining months. However, he set high expectation for the American people. He issued a call to action for all Americans to take our future into our own hands – urging us to fulfill our civic duty by voting, engage in public service, and even protest.
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