Featured photo: Protesters hold signs in front of the Midori Express parking lot. (photo by Sayaka Matsuoka)

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that those three words and phrases were written in the same sentence within the Declaration of Independence by the founding fathers.

But that’s exactly what anti-abortion advocates are coming for.

Since the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022, anti-abortion advocates have not slowed down their relentless campaign against life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Instead, they’ve doubled down.

Tomorrow, thousands of anti-abortion advocates will take to the streets for their annual “March for Life” event in which they rally in various cities to push their inhuman agenda. And make no mistake, the title of the event is a misnomer.

Because life, true life, does not exist without autonomy, or liberty, as the founders described it. And only with autonomy or liberty can there be a pursuit of happiness.

The staunch, unyielding efforts by the conservative factions of our society to force people to give birth when they don’t wish to is antithetical to life and liberty, and it’s inhumane.

And this is happening at a time when maternal mortality rates — or the number that calculates maternal deaths per 100,000 live births — is getting worse in this country. Did you read that correctly?

As life expectancy and other positive health markers improve, maternal mortality has gotten worse in the last few years.

In 2021, according to the CDC, 1,205 women died of maternal causes in the US compared with 861 in 2020 and 754 in 2019. The maternal mortality rate for 2021 was 32.9 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared with a rate of 23.8 in 2020 and 20.1 in 2019.

And that’s overall.

When you look at the data for Black, Brown and native women specifically, the picture is much, much worse.

In 2021, the maternal mortality rate for non-Hispanic Black women was 69.9 deaths per 100,000 live births, 2.6 times the rate for non-Hispanic white women (26.6), according to CDC data. “Rates for Black women were significantly higher than rates for White and Hispanic women,” the CDC noted. “The increases from 2020 to 2021 for all race and Hispanic-origin groups were significant.”

Let’s say it plain and simple: Limiting, restricting or eliminating access to safe, affordable abortion care is not only dangerous to people’s health, but it’s blatantly racist.

In a country that continues to ignore Black people’s health problems — Black women significantly — the anti-abortion movement has made it clear that they don’t care about people. They don’t care about life. They don’t care about liberty or the pursuit of happiness.

No, what they do care about is control and using a religious ideology to further limit those fundamental freedoms for the rest of us.

So as this election cycle begins, beware. Because those who are on the anti-abortion train aren’t just those who march in the streets this weekend. They’re on our city councils, our county commissions, our state legislatures. And we have a chance this year to vote them out.

Register to vote here.

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