A Democrat witness during a Wednesday Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on abortion repeatedly compared the harm imposed by anti-abortion laws to slavery.
University of California, Irvine Chancellor’s Professor of Law Michele Goodwin testified during a hearing on “The Assault on Reproductive Rights in a Post-Dobbs America” Wednesday, continually comparing the harm black women experienced during slavery and Jim Crow laws to modern abortion restrictions, which she notes are spreading through “what was the U.S. confederacy.” Judiciary Democrats announced the hearing shortly after a Texas judge suspended the FDA’s approval of abortion pill mifepristone, a decision the Supreme Court recently granted a stay on pending its appeal in the Fifth Circuit.
“The state of Mississippi has notoriously been a death sentence for black women dating back to the time of slavery, through Jim Crow into the present,” Goodwin said. “If we don’t thread that needle together, then there’s a lot that we are missing…Mississippi is one of the deadliest places not just in the country to be pregnant, but one of the deadliest places in all of the industrialized world to be pregnant.”
“And right now as there are anti-abortion measures are being spread through what was the U.S. confederacy, what we see are the people who are most harmed were the people most harmed during American slavery and Jim Crow too,” she continued. “That happens to be black women.”
Goodwin brought the issue up again when questioned by Democratic Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono.
“We cannot forget that forced pregnancy was also a feature of American slavery,” she said. “We must remember the effort to ratify the 13th amendment, which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, specifically related to the forced pregnancies that were placed upon black women and girls that they had to endure.”
Hirono agreed in her response to Goodwin.
“There was a time when women did not own their own bodies,” she said. “And that is exactly where we are today as far as I’m concerned…Thank you for that reminder.”
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