Washington, D.C., June 28 – On Friday, the United States Supreme Court reversed its almost 50-year position that the United States Constitution guarantees the right of people who are pregnant or may become pregnant to have autonomy over their own bodies and exercise the right to an abortion. Friday’s decision has and will continue to have a major impact on the disability community, and especially those within the community who are multiply marginalized.
RespectAbility is a diverse, disability-led nonprofit that works to create systemic change in how society views and values people with disabilities, and that advances policies and practices that empower people with disabilities to have a better future. Our mission is to fight stigmas and advance opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. Self-determination and access to health care are crucial to ensuring that everyone in the disability community can fully access opportunities and have a better future.
The disability community, and especially those who are also BIPOC and LGBTQIA+, has long been affected by laws and policies that restrict self-determination and violate bodily autonomy. The Supreme Court has been part of this legacy, including the infamous decision of Buck v. Bell, which allowed states to sterilize disabled individuals without their consent – a decision that has never been overturned. We affirm the right of every disabled person to make decisions about their own lives and bodies, while accessing the services they need to have a better future.
We also acknowledge that the disability community does not have just one perspective on the topic of abortion and reproductive health care. Disabled advocates and their allies have worked on many sides of reproductive health issues, from fighting policies that encourage abortion if a fetus is likely to be disabled to fighting for the rights of disabled parents to have and keep their children. We also know that disabled individuals are three times as likely to experience sexual assault than those without disabilities and that unwanted pregnancies can be the result. Many who are disabled also face lifelong and generational poverty, especially those who face persistent discrimination and barriers to education and entering the workforce. We affirm that reproductive healthcare decisions are both multifaceted and deeply personal, and respect the choice disabled individuals make for themselves and for their families.
We are in solidarity with the many marginalized groups and communities who will experience harm from Friday’s decision. We will continue to work in partnership and collaboration with these groups, whose identities often intersect with disability. We will continue to advocate for equity and inclusion of all disabled people, while centering the needs of those who are most marginalized.