WASHINGTON (WDVM) — While HR51 passed through the House of Representatives on April 22, the fight for D.C. statehood is still an uphill battle in the Senate. Now, Planned Parenthood has joined with the NAACP of Washington, D.C. and an Illinois Representative to show Congress their support for statehood.
The group sent a letter to Congress that declared statehood an issue of public health and racial equity, and had over 250 signatures from women of color.
The letter brought up health disparities that the lack of statehood creates for District residents. According to the letter, without statehood, residents’ health is put at risk. The letter points to Congress denying health bills that pass through D.C. Council as one example.
Dr. Serina Floyd, the Vice President of Medical Affairs and Medical Director at Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, explained, “Too often, what can happen is that critical policies can be stonewalled or overturned altogether by members of congress who do not represent Washingtonians. Really, because they don’t agree with the issue that is being considered.”
The letter also points out that D.C. is almost 50 percent Black, which leads to a racial equity problem as well.
“Nearly half of District residents are Black,” the letter states. “If Washington finally became a state, it would be the first state with a plurality of Black residents. Statehood for the District of Columbia is a racial justice issue and it`s a public health imperative.”
The letter also names the Black maternal mortality crisis and lack of local autonomy as further ways that systemic and structural racism has led to health inequities in the District.
It says, “It has always been morally reprehensible to deny the people of Washington, D.C. representation in our democracy. But the triple intersecting crises of COVID-19, systemic racism, and attacks on reproductive health have laid bare the depth of inequity experienced by D.C residents, particularly those of color. People who live in Washington, D.C. are being denied the autonomy to build their own health care systems and make their own choices about their bodies. This is a matter of life and death.”