‘This is what white supremacy looks like’: Urban Triage reaching out to local underserved communities hurt by Roe v. Wade reversal

MADISON, Wis. — Following Friday’s decision from the Supreme Court to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade case protecting abortion rights, Brandi Grayson, the founder and CEO of Urban Triage, didn’t mince words.

“This is what white supremacy looks like,” Grayson said, adding the ruling disproportionately hurt Black and Brown women and members of the LGBTQ community who already struggle with access to safe and affordable healthcare. 

“I would like to say that we were shocked or I was shocked — and I was not,” she said. “It was more so a sense of dread and like, darn it, you know?” 

According to Grayson, Urban Triage decided to shift some focus from its work empowering Black families and youth to building an asset map for those communities the organization feels the court’s decision impacts the most. 

“Now we’re going to build a network of supporters, volunteers, funders, agencies, and folks across state lines that are supporting women who would like to have abortions,” Grayson said. “We have to figure out transportation we have to figure out housing for them.” 

Abortions — except for those where a mother’s life is in danger — are now illegal under Wisconsin’s 1849 law on the books, which means nearby Illinois is the closest option for many.  

RELATED: Anti-abortion groups look to update 1849 Wisconsin ban

“Well, how does a 14-year-old get to a different state? How does someone who can’t, or doesn’t have the resources to, like, feed their family at night, get to another state?” said Grayson.  

According to the CDC, in 2019 non-Hispanic Black women made up almost 40 percent of reported abortions in the U.S.  

“We know that people will die because of this decision and that those people will be the most marginalized among us,” speakers said at a rally for reproductive rights at the state Capitol Friday.  

RELATED: Pro-choice, pro-life demonstrators rally at Capitol following Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade

In 2020, the maternal mortality rate for Black women – the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination — was almost three times higher than that of white women, according to the CDC.  

“One of the ways is that Black women are disproportionately murdered by the hands of their domestic partners when they have unexpected pregnancies,” said Grayson. 

“So we’re anticipating that there will be more domestic violence for those that are surviving poverty,” she said. “We’re anticipating that there will be more, an increase in attempts for home abortions.”

Grayson said she knows there are many logistical and legal challenges to work through, but she stressed support is out there, regardless of your skin color. “There are tons of organizations that are coming together to create almost, like an underground service for folks whether it’s volunteers, private donors offering transportation and housing.”

“Just because a group of nine people or whatever made a decision about your life doesn’t mean that you’re alone in it,” said Grayson. 

Grayson said those in need of help can reach out to Urban Triage directly, while they rework their website to have more abortion-related information next week.