PLAIN LANGUAGE VERSION
Our view: What Roe versus Wade ending means for People with Disabilities
As people with disabilities, Able SC is worried about the Supreme Court’s decision to end Roe versus Wade.
Roe versus Wade was an important decision made in 1973. It gave all Americans the right to decide if they want an abortion. In June 2022, the Supreme Court undid its decision. This ended the right to access abortion in the United States.
We know ending rights can be bad for our health. The Supreme Court’s decision could hurt all human rights. This is scary for people with disabilities.
Why Able SC is speaking out:
Able SC supports each person’s ability to choose what’s best for them. People with disabilities already have barriers to rights and healthcare. The Supreme Court’s decision is just another barrier for us.
We advocate against the idea that we can’t get pregnant. We advocate against doctors making changes to our bodies that would stop us from getting pregnant. We call this forced sterilization. We have fought against eugenics. Eugenics is the idea that some people have “good traits” and some people have “bad traits.” Some people see people with disabilities as having bad traits. This is not true. People who believe in eugenics want to get stop us from having children. Eugenics is wrong and hurts people with disabilities. We have fought for the freedom to make our own choices for our own bodies.
We understand abortion is a hard topic that people don’t always agree on. We also know that any laws that make it harder to get healthcare hurt people with disabilities more. People who are from different backgrounds have even more barriers to health care.
- People who are Black, indigenous or other people of color have more barriers to healthcare.
- People with disabilities who have been raped have more barriers to healthcare.
- People with disabilities who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, or others have more barriers to healthcare.
- People with disabilities who are not from America have more barriers to healthcare.
- People with disabilities who are poor have more barriers to healthcare.
Able SC will always advocate for people with disabilities. People with disabilities have the right to have a family or not, including:
The right of people with disabilities
- To have and keep our pregnancies
- To have access to help with getting pregnant
- To have access to accessible pap smears and other exams
- To make decisions about our bodies, including making the decision to end a pregnancy
We also advocate against harmful beliefs about people with disabilities. We want to make sure that doctors are not giving wrong information about people with disabilities.
When a doctor thinks a pregnant person could have a baby with a disability they should not say that people with disabilities don’t have a good life. People with disabilities can lead active and good lives. Doctors must provide full information that tells about the disability. They should not scare pregnant people with wrong beliefs about disabilities. Giving the right information will allow pregnant people to make the right decisions about their pregnancy.
Able SC fights for disability rights beyond birth. We changed laws in 2017 to protect the rights of people with disabilities so they can be parents. We fight to keep our families together.
How are people with disabilities impacted by the decision?
People with disabilities are able to have children. People with disabilities are as likely as nondisabled people to want pregnancy. However, fewer of us plan to birth a child in our lifetimes. Safe pregnancy can happen. We need pregnancy information and care that includes our disability.
We already have barriers to healthcare and abortions. We do not get the disability-specific pregnancy care we need. We are often at a high risk of pregnancy-related problems and death.
We are also more likely to be poor than people without disabilities. Black people with disabilities are more likely than white people with disabilities to be poor. Disabled people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or a part of the queer community (LGBTQ+) are usually poorer than LGBTQ+ nondisabled people. Being poor plus the other barriers we have makes it hard to find good healthcare. Sometimes we cannot get the birth control information we need. Disabled people are more likely to get pregnant by accident.
Over history, sex for people with disabilities has been ignored. As a result, we don’t get the information on pregnancies and care.
Taking away our right to abortion can hurt us and cause death. Making the decision to take away our right to abortion is wrong. It shows that people don’t understand our needs.
We are more likely to be victims of sexual assault. Sexual assault is when someone forces you to have sex. It is also when you are forced to do things you don’t want to do to someone. Reproductive coercion is when someone forces you to become pregnant. They can force you by threatening you or removing or damaging birth control. Reproductive coercion is a form of sexual assault.
- With more than one disability
- Disabled people who are LGBTQ+
- Disabled people of color.
Sometimes a sexual assault can leave you pregnant. People with disabilities deserve the right to end any pregnancy. If you need an abortion after sexual assault, you should be able to get one.
Mental & Physical Wellbeing:
We may not be able to carry a pregnancy to birth. Our disability or the medicines we take could make pregnancy dangerous. Pregnancy could make your disability worse. Disabled people are more likely to have pregnancy-related problems or death than nondisabled people. These rates of risk increase for disabled people of color.
If you need life-saving medicine and stop taking them because of pregnancy, you could die. For example, people with psychiatric disabilities often stop medicine during pregnancy. Many psychiatric medicines cannot be stopped immediately. Stopping medicine without a plan can cause deadly side effects, like suicidal thoughts. Pregnant people with psychiatric disabilities must make a harmful choice. They can end their medicine and risk deadly side effects. Or they can continue medicine that could harm them or the pregnancy.
Being forced to carry a pregnancy is more dangerous for people with disabilities. It is more dangerous because of:
- Not getting the healthcare we need
- Higher risk of pregnancy-related problems
- Mental and emotional harm
Forcing anyone to carry a pregnancy can be deadly and cruel.
Bodily Autonomy & Independent Living:
Bodily autonomy means getting to make decisions about your body, on your own. Bodily autonomy has been taken from people with disabilities. This is because people believe we are not capable of making choices. This is wrong.
Independent Living is the idea that people with disabilities are the best experts on our needs. Our needs, thoughts, and opinions matter, especially about our own lives. We should be able to make choices for ourselves. Losing the right to abortion limits our control over our bodies and lives. This is the opposite of the idea of independent living we live by.
Healthcare rights, like abortions, are important to people with disabilities. These rights give us the freedom and privacy to make decisions about ourselves. Ending the right to an abortion will make more barriers for us.
We deserve the right to access the medical treatment we need. Able SC believes that abortion care is a treatment we should have access to. Access to healthcare is a part of what we need to live free and well.
Lawmakers should not take away our access to abortion care. Lawmakers should work with us to understand and fix barriers to healthcare. Lawmakers should work with us because we know our needs best. The disability community is tired of being used as an excuse for or against bans. We are tired of being denied equal rights. We are tired of being denied the right to make choices about our lives.
Able SC will continue doing all we can to protect the rights of people with disabilities. We will work to protect abortion rights and all human rights. That is what we do.
Know your rights:
The Department of Health and Human Services has a website to help you learn about reproductive rights laws where you live. Learn more at reproductiverights.gov.