By Sam Volataire, MSW, MPH and Kyle Chvasta, MSW

The Dobbs v. Jackson decision will prove to be disruptive and highly consequential for many, including those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The landmark decision was made on June 24, 2022, overruling Roe v. Wade 50 years after its passage. This decision placed abortion access in the hands of states and will, without a doubt, exacerbate the vast healthcare disparities that exist across the US.  

Abortion access and the state of reproductive healthcare are clearly at the center of this policy issue. But have we fully considered how this may impact disabled people and other marginalized communities, particularly those with intersecting identities? 

This conversation has been happening in public discourse and on social media well before 2022. Healthcare advocates, activists, and everyday folks are raising awareness about how the Dobbs decision may negatively touch the lives of many in the disability community and beyond. 1 

K Agbebiyi @sheabutterfemme, a Black nonbinary femme organizer, social worker, and housing activist tweeted, “Repro justice without a commitment to disability justice just gets us back to square one. Like if you want to talk about groups of people who routinely have their reproductive autonomy violated… and we’re just expected to take it.” 

Maggie Scotece @MaggieScotece, interim ED with @AbortionFundOH said, “Repro has a long history of harming and sidelining disability activists and advocates. There is no Reproductive Justice without Disability Justice.”  

The Center for Reproductive Rights @ReproRights brought the conversation further, saying, “Black, Indigenous & people of color, women, the LGBTQI+ community, immigrants, young people, those working to make ends meet and people with disabilities are among those impacted most by abortion restrictions. #ActForAbortionAccess”  

SisterSong @SisterSong_WOC rounded out the discourse by simply stating, “Reproductive and disability share human rights principles of bodily autonomy, self-determination, equality, and inclusion!…” 

California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, @Latinas4RJ, tweeted an excerpt from an article that stated “’Having the fullest possible agency over my body includes whether or not I’d like to bring new life into this world. Our world will never be fully accessible without the option of abortion.’ DISABILITY JUSTICE IS REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE! 

Alex Wood, @affirmingdoula, wrote, “Reproductive justice is inextricable from disability justice and it’s really alarming how many people, especially on “our” side, don’t understand this! 

CAP Disability, @CAPDisability, the official account of the disability justice initiative within the Center for American Progress (an independent policy institute) added, “It’s non-negotiable: the fight for reproductive rights and justice must include disabled people. Disability justice is reproductive justice.”   

These are only a few examples amongst the chorus of voices calling for not just the protection of abortion rights for cisgender women, but for the inclusion and assurance of the rights of those regularly disenfranchised – disabled people, Black and Brown people, LGBTQIA+ people, people impacted by poverty, and especially all of those who exist at the intersection of these identities. They are among those most affected by curtailed abortion rights and are more likely to encounter poor health care service, more likely to die in childbirth, and more likely to face hardship and domestic violence if forced to give birth yet have rarely been centered in post Roe-v-Wade conversations.  

 If we do not intentionally center those who are most affected by the Dobbs decision, we run the risk of either overlooking or exasperating issues of bodily autonomy of disabled people, medicalized racism in reproductive healthcare, transphobic and homophobic health policies, as well as disparities in mental health and poverty. 

All these issues are interconnected and are not easy to unpack when looking at the Dobbs decision at face value. Stay tuned, the Policy Impact Project will be writing a companion blog connecting all these issues and breaking down the systems that connect them will be released in the upcoming weeks. 

  1. The tweets were selected by using the following search phrase on Twitter: “repro” AND “disability justice.” Sharing the tweets is done for illustrative purposes and we do not endorse the entirety of a person’s Twitter account when we share a tweet. 
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