On September 21, 2022, Disability Lead came together with partners and community leaders to co-host Disability & Reproductive Rights: Post Roe Realities webinar. Partners included the University of Illinois Institute on Disability and Human Development, UIC’s Disability Cultural Center, UIC Woman and Leadership and Resource Center, Disability Lead, National Network of Abortion Funds, The Chicagoland Disabled People of Color Coalition, and Planned Parenthood Illinois Action. Speakers discussed the unique effects that the fall of Roe v Wade will have on our community, especially disabled women of color. Here are some highlights from the speakers:
Senator Tammy Duckworth notes that “people with disabilities are less likely to receive contraceptive counseling and timely prenatal care and are at greater risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes” She highlights the importance of pushing to pass legislation that allows women with disabilities to receive the care and access to reproductive health counseling and resources. She has introduced and helped pass several bills that address issues such as the Hyde Amendment which makes it difficult or impossible for people with disabilities to receive abortion care.
Dr. Robyn Powell, Associate Professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Law, breaks reproductive justice down into 3 pillars: “The right to have a child, the right to not have a child, the right to be able to parent one’s child safely and with dignity.” While abortion is a key area where disabled people experience oppression, they are subject to oppression across nearly all aspects regarding Reproductive health and autonomy. Access to abortion care is an important piece to ensure that people with disabilities are not forced to endure a pregnancy that carries significant risk to their wellbeing.
“We need to ensure that people with disabilities can access abortion if they need to travel out of state, and to ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are met so that they are able to make the best choice for themselves and don’t feel pigeonholed into one decision.”
Ameri Klafeta is the Director of the Women’s Reproductive Rights Project for the ACLU Illinois. She works to help expand and protect access to healthcare and reproductive rights in Illinois. She outlines the fact that Illinois is surrounded by several states that are hostile to abortion and that abortion rights is something that needs to be continuously fought for.
“Every time we get good legislation passed, we see challenges in court. The Reproductive Health Act is being challenged in court in Sangamon county, for example. So it's really important for people to be engaged and stay involved with the political process.”
Christina Headley, Senior Attorney at Equip for Equality, provides legal services and advocacy to people with disabilities. She talks about the importance of the inclusion of people with disabilities in discussions about reproductive rights and healthcare, who are often left out due to ableist assumptions. The importance of this inclusion centers on the increased need of disabled people specifically to have access to abortion care.
"This exclusion [from conversations about reproductive rights and care] is based on several false assumptions. Those include that people with disabilities should not and do not have sexual lives, should not or do not reproduce, that people with disabilities cannot make decisions about their own bodies, and that they need someone else to make those decisions for them."
Keidra Chaney is the Digital Engagement and Accessibility Manager at National Network of Abortion Funds. She talks about actions that people can take to protect their right to reproductive healthcare. In addition to attending protests, and contributing financially to abortion care organizations, people can get directly involved with abortion funds. One can get involved or request services at their local abortion fund by visiting abortionfund.org or Ineedana.com
"Both disability justice and reproductive justice are frameworks that highlight bodily autonomy and self-determination, and highlight how race, class, gender, and other segments of identity intersect in people's lives and how access to health is shaped by those intersections."
Michelle Garcia is the Manager of Organizing and Community Development at Access Living. She talks about mutual aid work and options for disabled people who are undocumented immigrants. She works to provide mutual aid to individuals who need abortion care support and access and highlights the need for people to assist in her work. Building community allyship, fundraising, and events are needed to spread awareness about the issues facing the disability community as it relates to reproductive health.
“We must build community allyship around [abortion, health, housing] because they impact us all as people with disabilities and allow us to come together with a strong voice"