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Our Response to the 6 Week Abortion Ban

Written by Tobias-Ana Soudaly-Espinosa

Trigger Warning: eugenics, r*pe, m*rder mentions

In light of the Iowa Supreme Court Decision this past Friday, Great Plains Action Society has a message for our constituents. We are intensely dedicated to body sovereignty. Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island have always had our own birthing practices– including self-managing abortions with the help of indigenous midwives. 

A Quick, non-comprehensive history lesson: Most Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island were matriarchal societies. Christian colonizers brought their toxic, misogynistic patriarchal framework to indigenous peoples. They taught it to us to de-power women in our communities, raped and murdered women to further destabilize our tribes and steal our indigenous lands. Smallpox blankets were not the only form of biological warfare enacted on us. Disabled people and indigenous peoples were sterilized en masse following the rise of eugenics in the early 1900s. Between 1970 and 1976, its estimated 25-50% of all childbearing-age indigenous people were forcibly sterilized. Roe was passed in 1973– smack in the middle of the mass sterilizations. To put it incredibly bluntly, so no one has to read between the lines, reproductive rights wins were not wins for indigenous people. The Hyde Amendment, passed in 1977*, halted federal funding for abortion care, when most indigenous people at the time only had access to Indian Health Services, a federally funded program. (Read: abortions for indigenous people have NEVER been safe, accessible, legal, and protected under the American government.)

Lack of reproductive care, including abortions, is a factor in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives crisis, being that people in abusive situations statistically are less likely to be able to leave without reproductive care access. Access to abortion has always been intersectional. Indigenous rights and attacks on our people have always been intersectional. It should be entirely clear by now that fascist government works incrementally, and never stops. Fascist politicians have taken our rights to abortions, they’re attacking our trans relatives, they spread hate and fear about our 2slgbtqia+ relatives, they let their oil mongering friends poison our neighbors and our lands, there are already bills restricting contraception being passed around congresses. Racist Christo-fascist American leaders wiped out as many indigenous peoples as they could, before they subjugated Black people, followed by alienating Latino and Asian people, and now islamophobia is at all time heights. Fascist and racist politicians and leaders are still doing all of that now. 

For those unaware, matriarchy in indigenous circles is not just patriarchy with swapped gender roles, like Merriam Webster would have you believe. Better scholars than I would be able to better describe the differences between having women in seats of power and women being centered as multifaceted leaders. In my own words, matriarchy is not even about gender, but about centering care for every person in the community and everything the community touches. Linked below is another article on matriarchy in indigenous circles for more perspective.

We are so dedicated to every campaign we have here at GPAS, not just because land back means reclaiming land for indigenous peoples and rematriating that land means a healthier environment and holistic living. We are so dedicated because rematriation puts power directly back into the hands of our communities and reestablishes matriarchy. Land Back and Body Sovereignty are intrinsically connected which is why we’re so committed to both. You cannot have Body Sovereignty without ending the MMIR crisis which is why we are so committed to both. You cannot end the MMIR crisis without participating in and promoting Mutual Aid, which is why we are so committed to both. You cannot partake in Mutual Aid and leave out other communities, be they another race, sexuality, religion, or else it ceases to be Mutual Aid. End the White Christian Colonial problem and we will protect our sovereignty and communities.

This most recent attack on our communities and our allies will not stop us. As long as we stand together, as long as we at GPAS have fight left in us, we will continue our work for our shared rights. 

*This article has been edited on 7/14/2024 to correct the year the Hyde Amendment was passed. (1977)


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