TWU Stands Up for Body Sovereignty and the Right to Choose
“It is dangerous and irresponsible for the U.S. Supreme Court to pick and choose when patients are allowed access to healthcare. This decision is about domination and control.”
– Dr. Corrine Sanchez
Tewa Women United
In its June 24 ruling on Dobbs. V. Jackson Women’s Health, the U.S. Supreme Court has made a decision that directly impacts the lives of millions of women and birthing people, and that further destabilizes our already precarious democracy.
Because of this ruling, more than 65 million people have immediately lost access to abortion care in their home states. The ruling has a disproportionate impact on poor women, especially Black, Indigenous, Latino, and other people of color (BIPOC). These groups have the most difficult access to contraception and the lowest-quality maternal care because of this country’s long history of racism and discrimination. The SCOTUS ruling literally endangers women and birthing people in these groups, and puts their lives at risk.
Indigenous women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy than white women. Indigenous women face extremely high rates of violence, including sexual violence, domestic abuse, and intimate partner violence. Indigenous women are 1.7 times more likely to be victims of violence than white women. (Source: https://www.ncai.org/policy-research-center/research-data/prc-publications/VAWA_Data_Brief__FINAL_2_1_2018.pdf)
The Center for Disease Control reported that during 2007–2016, Black and American Indian/Alaska Native women had a significantly higher rate of pregnancy-related deaths. Black women are over three times as likely to die by carrying a pregnancy to term as white women. (Source: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/68/wr/mm6835a3.htm)
It’s crucial to note that New Mexico is now one of the few remaining places in the U.S. where a woman or pregnant-capable person can make personal decisions about abortion, thanks to the passage of SB 10 in 2021. While other states have enacted more than 480 laws that restrict access to abortion care since 2010 and more than 300 in the past five years alone, New Mexico remains a place where women from our communities and across the country can access the safe and legal healthcare they need.
For decades, Tewa Women United has advocated for an approach to pregnancy and parenting that lifts up traditional knowledge and that honors body sovereignty. This extends to respecting a woman’s choice around every aspect of her pregnancy, including the difficult choice to end it. Tewa Women United continues to stand with 77% of our rural New Mexico families who believe, regardless of their faith, that the decision to have or not have a child rests with the pregnant person and their family.
We will continue to use our voices and power to protect our inherent reproductive rights and fight against abortion restrictions which keep people from getting the care they want, need, and deserve.
Abortion care is essential healthcare. Healthcare is a fundamental human right, and human rights are non-negotiable.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
1. Support your local abortion fund. Abortion funds are independent, grassroots organizations developed to support the specific needs of their communities. Find a fund in your area here. If you are in New Mexico, we recommend supporting these funds:
2. Stay informed about reproductive health access in New Mexico with this guide, Accessing Abortion in New Mexico, created by our partners at Bold Futures. Share this information with anyone who may need it.
3. Continue to educate yourself and others on the link between restrictions on reproductive rights and colonization and systemic oppression. Take time to read the following statement, issued on June 24, 2022, by the Advisory Committee of the Building the Fire Fund.
As women and nonbinary caregivers of the First Nations and ancestral to this land, who are the original and rightful stewards of this land, we have watched the systems of white supremacy grow and expand, while we have always held tightly to our traditional knowledges and lifeways. We know prior to contact in 1492, Indigenous women and LGBTQIA2S+ people had more autonomy, freedom, and body sovereignty than colonizers could grasp or fully understand. Since then, we have lived under the colonizer’s cruel and dehumanizing ways and adapted to other western systems of care for one another. Now, we see that they are willing to inflict harm upon their own women, and all women, in addition to what they’ve done to Brown and Black bodies. This legacy of trauma and systemic oppression greatly affects us, physically and spiritually. Our bodies and spirits continue to carry all the scars and remembrances of brutal systems and strategic policies that have continually asserted domination over those of us they see as a threat.
As the keepers and stewards of this land, and as citizens and descendants of our tribal nations, we state very clearly, these systems were never built to protect our peoples. From forced sterilization of our women and relatives capable of becoming pregnant to the implementation of the Hyde Amendment, this is yet another attack on the sovereignty of Indigenous people. What we are witnessing now and what we know will continue to happen to all women and birthing peoples in this country, is that striking down Roe is dangerous and will cost countless lives. There is no scenario where women and birthing people will not be put at further risk. It creates a stark choice about how to care for women during this time. Our inherent sovereignty as Indigenous women and people determines that we must decide our own fate, and not allow the state to define these outcomes on our behalf. Upholding Roe v. Wade is the very least this country can do, after centuries of the systemic oppression of anyone not white, male and Christian.
We are not afraid of this fight to come – in fact, we were inherently built for this. We will continue to act for the collective good to bring forth collective liberation.