Deborah J. Vagins, President and CEO, National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV).
On Friday, June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years with its 5-4 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (and Chief Justice Roberts concurring in judgment). The decision marks the first time in history that the Supreme Court has taken away a fundamental right, and it is an unconscionable rollback of constitutional privacy rights for all people. The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) is gravely concerned this decision will lead to total bans on abortion in about half of the states, change the work we do with domestic violence survivors who are experiencing reproductive abuse and coercion, and further harm survivors in need. The decision may force those who have the means to travel thousands of miles to access abortion care or force others to carry pregnancies against their will.
Abortion services are essential healthcare and having equal access—for all people, everywhere—is vital to their social and economic participation, reproductive autonomy, and right to determine their own lives. For domestic violence survivors, abortion access is a matter of safety. With this decision, we are thrown back to a time before legalized abortion was a right for all—when only some people, in some states, with enough means, could acquire the reproductive care they needed. Rolling back this constitutional right is antithetical to fairness, equal rights, personal privacy, and the concept of autonomy.
State bans and restrictions will be devastating for low-income survivors, survivors of color, survivors with disabilities, and others who already face substantial barriers to accessing the healthcare they need. Without access to abortion care, domestic violence survivors are at risk of reproductive coercion. All people, including domestic violence survivors, deserve full control over their lives and decisions, including the ability to safely and freely decide whether or not to become, or stay, pregnant.
Abortion bans and restrictions are part of the intertwined systems of oppression that deny Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color access to healthcare and other human rights. Reproductive justice, a framework created by Black women, is a necessary component of gender equality and racial justice that can only be achieved when all people have the social, political, and economic power to make decisions about their own health, bodies, and sexuality.
NNEDV will not stand silently by while our rights are taken away and we are committed to working towards racial, economic, and reproductive justice for all. With so much at stake, NNEDV urges Congress to act immediately to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act or other federal legislation that would provide a federal law protecting abortion access. Now, without constitutional protections, congressional action is critical to protect every person’s right to make their own decisions about their bodies.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) represents the 56 U.S. state and territorial coalitions against domestic violence. NNEDV is dedicated to creating a social, political, and economic environment in which domestic violence no longer exists. NNEDV works to make domestic violence a national priority, change the way society responds to domestic violence, and strengthen domestic violence advocacy at every level. To learn more about NNEDV visit nnedv.org.