Bodily Autonomy & Roe v. Wade
Updated: May 11, 2022
On Monday, May 2nd, Politico reported on the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion which would overturn Roe v. Wade. Perhaps at first glance, the issue of abortion rights is only ancillary to the mission of SARA. However, the foundational tenet of SARA’s mission is the bodily autonomy of all people. Anything less than bodily autonomy is a violation of that person’s human rights.
In addition to protecting abortion as healthcare regardless of circumstances of pregnancy, access to abortion services is a critical component of care for survivors of rape, incest, and intimate partner violence. In states that have already banned abortion after 6 weeks (before many people know they are pregnant), this has already had a chilling effect on survivors. Survivors of rape may even be less likely to know they are pregnant before six weeks because to cope with the trauma of the abuse, they often grow numb to what's happening to their bodies. Forced birth for rape and incest survivors compounds and prolongs the trauma of the assault. It can be harmful not only psychologically, but financially and physically as well.
While there continues to be the belief that a person’s body “has ways to shut the whole thing down” in instances of rape (former Rep. Todd Akin), this is a dangerous myth. According to the CDC, 3 million women in the U.S. have experience rape-related pregnancy (RRP). Those who were raped by a current or former intimate partner had much higher rates of RRP; (26%) compared to those raped by an acquaintance (5.2%) or a stranger (6.9%). Although these statistics are centered around women, people of all genders experience reproductive coercion. Of women raped by an intimate partner, 30% experience reproductive coercion. In other words, forced pregnancy and forced birth were used as forms of violence against women and marginalized genders by their intimate partners.
The prevention of sexual and gender violence hinges on fundamental value of bodily autonomy: the right for every human being to grant consent for what does and does not happen to their body. SARA adamantly and unequivocally supports the protection of a person’s right to abortion services.