Last week, Florida passed a six-week abortion ban at the dismay of abortion activists in the state, who are now expressing concerns about how the law will affect women of color.
According to data from 2022, Florida is home to 828,100 Black women and 1.4 million Latina women of reproductive age, 570,000 of whom are financially insecure, and 585,200 of whom are already mothers. They also have a higher maternal mortality rate than that of their White peers.
Lack of health insurance and language barriers prevent many from receiving healthcare, as well as "discriminatory policies that make it difficult for people to access routine health care," according to state policy advocate for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, Aurelie Colón-Larrauri.
"Forcing anyone in marginalized communities to continue their pregnancy, because they cannot terminate them, may actually contribute to an increase of maternal mortality rates in the state of Florida," she told NBC.
Colón-Larrauri noted that at six weeks into a pregnancy, many are not yet aware that they are pregnant, and that even if they know, it does not give them enough time to travel, find lodging, and scrape together payment.
"This six-week abortion ban is effectively a total ban," she said. "It’s not realistic, and that’s by design."
While the law makes exceptions in cases where the pregnant person's life is at risk, or in cases of rape and incest, it still places an undue burden on those already in a vulnerable period to obtain documents from health professionals or law enforcement, which many are unable without proper healthcare, or if they are undocumented.
Many doctors are also concerned about the vagueness of the law, and whether or not they will be punished for treating an at risk patient. Fearing criminal charges and losing their licenses, healthcare providers are more likely to turn patients away out of caution.
"These further restrictions placed on abortion care make a medically safe practice legally dangerous, and endangers the lives in the process," Colón-Larrauri said.
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