U of M professors call abortion restrictions an ‘assault on racial equity’

Planned Parenthood was founded by Margaret Sanger, who aligned herself with "ableist and white supremacist" groups, as Planned Parenthood has acknowledged.

A Planned Parenthood location in St. Paul. (Fibonacci Blue/Flickr)

Two professors and one graduate researcher at the University of Minnesota have called the Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson — which overturned the constitutional right to an abortion — a “direct assault on efforts to improve racial equity in health care.”

Published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, the article, titled “Abortion Access as a Racial Justice Issue,” argues that lawmakers and health care workers ought to treat restrictions on legal abortion as “fundamentally a racial justice issue,” the Star Tribune first reported.

The two professors, Rachel Hardeman and Katy Backes Kozhimannil, are the director and senior advisor of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity, respectively, while Asha Hassan is a graduate student and public health researcher who specializes in “structural racism and health inequities.”

Their article traces what they perceive as the United States’ longstanding history of “reproductive injustice” against minorities, from the behavior of slaveowners to forced sterilization.

“Decisions regarding the legal status of abortion and other reproductive health services reflect the status of civil rights for anyone with the capacity for pregnancy, but they have a particular resonance for Black and Indigenous people living in the United States, who have experienced reproductive oppression for centuries,” the article reads.

The U of M researchers further argue that “inequities” in health care access explain why minority women, particularly black and Native American women, are ostensibly more likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth than white women.

“As restrictions on abortion increase, racial injustice in health will persist and worsen,” the article says. “The adverse health effects of the Dobbs decision will fall hardest on patients, clinicians, clinics, health care systems, and communities in states with the highest maternal mortality and the biggest racial inequities in maternal and reproductive health.”

Though Dobbs v. Jackson overturned the precedent set by Roe v. Wade, the court’s decision upheld Mississippi’s abortion restrictions and enabled other states to enact similar laws as they see fit. The June ruling did not per se ban or restrict abortion anywhere in the U.S.

Just two weeks after the Dobbs decision, a Ramsey County judge tossed out several abortion restrictions as “unconstitutional.” Per the Minnesota Supreme Court’s Doe v. Gomez decision in 1995, abortion is recognized as a “right” in the state constitution.

Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion provider, was founded by a woman named Margaret Sanger, who believed in eugenics, as the abortion giant has admitted.

“Margaret Sanger was so intent on her mission to advocate for birth control that she chose to align herself with ideologies and organizations that were explicitly ableist and white supremacist,” Planned Parenthood said in a 2021 flier in which it denounced Sanger’s views.

According to a report from LifeNews, nearly 80% of Planned Parenthoods are located in black and Hispanic communities.

Some have argued that Sanger’s views — she believed in the “sterilization of the feeble-minded” — “contributed to compulsory sterilization laws in thirty U.S. states that resulted in more than 60,000 sterilizations of vulnerable people.”


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.