SCOTUS Ruling Eliminates Equitable Access to Health Care for Survivors, Puts Their Lives at Risk
Austin, TX – The National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline) is devastated by today’s Supreme Court ruling. Central to control over one’s life, safety and health is the right to control one’s own body. The right to access reproductive health care, including safe and legal abortion, is essential to living a life free from violence.
As the nation’s largest 24/7 domestic violence hotline, we hear from survivors every day who experience sexual abuse and reproductive coercion – a form of abuse in which one partner causes harm, exerting power over the other through pressure to engage in sexual activity, refusing to use contraception or sabotaging contraception, restricting a partner from seeing a health care provider, and/or keeping them from making critical health care decisions. More than 21,000 people reaching out to The Hotline in 2021 reported experiencing sexual abuse (accounting for 11% of all abuse reported), and from 2020-2021, more than 3,000 survivors reached out with specific experiences of reproductive coercion.
A survivor recently shared with our advocate, “My partner forces me to give him my birth control and I am now pregnant. He has threatened to kill me in the past, and I’m afraid that he will kill me if he finds out that I told anyone about the abuse or pregnancy. I feel guilty about not wanting to carry the pregnancy.”
Since 2017, 45 state legislatures have enacted more than 250 abortion-related restrictions. With today’s ruling, these states will see no legal obstacle to restricting access to safe and legal abortions and other necessary reproductive health care. With its recent failure to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), Congress has also left survivors of domestic violence open to further harm by not codifying their rights to high-quality reproductive health care, including access to safe and legal abortion irrespective of the state in which a person lives.
This ruling not only eliminates equitable access to health care for survivors but will also have dire economic consequences, as well as a devastating impact on their mental and physical health. Particularly affected will be those already experiencing systemic oppression and facing barriers to accessing services and support, including Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities, those with disabilities, queer and trans survivors, and/or those who don’t have the financial means to travel to another state to seek a safe and legal abortion.
All abortion restrictions put survivors’ lives in danger and intensify the power of the one causing them harm. Simply put— some survivors will lose their lives because their basic human right to control their own bodies is no longer protected.
We stand with survivors and affirm that they should have the agency to make their own decisions about their lives and bodies. Anything less is cruel. We will be here for all survivors and continue to advocate for their rights and safety.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline envisions a world where all relationships are positive, healthy, and free from violence. If you or someone you know needs help, call The Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or go to thehotline.org.