Police violence may not seem like the concern of a Midwest abortion fund, but we as the Board and Staff of Women Have Options- Ohio know different. We know that opposing police violence and challenging systemic racism must be central to the work we do.
At WHO/O, we proudly fund abortions, but we also aim to support the full spectrum of reproductive justice. As defined by the Sistersong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, reproductive justice includes the right to have a child, the right to not have a child, and the right to parent children with dignity in safe, healthy, and supportive environments. As an organization, we believe that an equitable right to abortion care, regardless of a person’s ability to pay, is essential to that mission. But we also recognize that accessible abortion is only one part of a much larger struggle for reproductive justice. For many pregnant Ohioans the decision to continue a pregnancy is multifaceted, especially given the global pandemic and its disproportionate impact Black, brown, and lower-income communities, ongoing police violence, and widespread protests. Particularly, Black Ohioans must seriously consider the potential of racist police violence and the disproportionate rates of maternal mortality to harm any future children or parents.
We at WHO/O know that the future of safe, healthy, thriving communities we strive for is unattainable when Black, Indigenous, and people of color are being oppressed with systemic police and racial violence. We know that an equitable right to healthcare, including reproductive healthcare, will be impossible in the context of systemic racism. Therefore, as part of our commitment to reproductive justice, we must support our communities in the struggle for racial justice.
In the past months WHO/O has felt the impact of police violence and targeting of Black leaders even more closely. Members of our Board and Staff have been out in the streets since May. We have had board members and staff physically assaulted, pepper-sprayed, tear-gassed, shot at, and arrested by the Columbus Police Department. Police brutality threatens our organizational family directly as well as the communities we serve. More explicitly we acknowledge that the carceral system in the United States is not broken, it is functioning exactly as it was designed. For this reason, and many more, the system cannot be reformed, it must be dismantled and reimagined to provide dignity, safety, and justice to all who are a part of it.
The Board and Staff of WHO/O unabashedly denounce police violence. We stand proudly with the Movement for Black Lives. We uplift the names of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Elijiah McClain, Julius Tate, Tyre King, and Henry Green among too many others. We call for the end of qualified immunity, police militarization, and over-policing Black neighborhoods. We support those who have taken to the streets in Columbus, across Ohio, the United States, and the world to bring attention to the violence against Black, Indigenous, and people of color. We specifically condemn the violence, escalation, gaslighting, and racism of the Columbus Police Department, Mayor Andrew Ginther, Chief of Police Thomas Quinlan, FOP President Kieth Ferrell, and the countless other law enforcement agencies across Ohio and the US that are carrying out state-sanctioned violence.
Following the lead of many powerful Black women/femme activists and leaders, we join their call for an end to the carceral and policing system in this country and demand the creation of a system anchored in transformative and restorative justice.