Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, there have already been many anti-abortion laws put in place across the country. Most abortions are now banned in 13 states and more states are pushing to ban all together or make extremely strict laws. We already know these laws are a feminist issue that strips the rights of all women but it is even more dangerous for women with disabilities.
Disabled people often rely on Medicaid for insurance. According to the Center for American Progress, disabled women have a poverty rate of 22.9%, compared with a rate of 11.4% for non-disabled women. Low income leads to Medicaid being the only option. This means for disabled people the government now controls their uterus rights as well as their health care. Now even if you live in a state where abortion is legal, you are likely not going to be able to afford it if you receive Medicaid. In Virginia, cases where the mother’s health is in endangerment are the only times funds will be provided through Medicaid for abortion. However, most predominantly red states will not offer any funding whatsoever. Neglecting to consider how disabled people will access abortion marginalized an already underrepresented group.
It is the details able-bodied people may not even think about that make lack of government support for abortion more difficult for disabled people. State laws and restrictions on insurance coverage bans, multiple appointments, and government mandated delays make abortion all the more difficult for disabled people to access. It is the small details able-bodied people may not even think about that make lack of government support for abortion more difficult for disabled people. Having disabilities can often mean needing extra help with access to transportation, financial or housing insecurity, and more. These affect the ability to make the appointment, get to the appointment, review the forms, leave the clinic, etc. incredibly difficult. Plus, there’s the matter of the abortion clinic itself- many are not equipped with appropriate equipment that equate to universal access, such as wheelchair accessible rooms and bathrooms, narrow examination tables and hallways, and equipment such as x-ray machines or scales that may not be accessible.
Contraception is wrapped up in abortion and reproductive rights issues as well. According to the Center for American progress, many disabled women report having their contraception needs dismissed or overlooked by healthcare providers, which can lead to the need for abortion upon not having proper access to contraceptives. Preventative screenings, which include pap smears and mammograms, is another barrier. The U.S. centers for disease control and prevention found in a 2013 survey that disabled women are less likely to receive these important measures, not to mention the accessibility issues often present in treatment rooms.
Disabled women may even have a higher need for abortion than able-bodied women. According to a survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, disabled people were over three times likelier to experience sexual assault than able-bodied people. The likelihood increased for women with multiple disabilities. Access to abortion can often be a life-saving necessity for disabled women, as for some, carrying a pregnancy to full term can endanger their lives. Disabled women are 11 times more likely to experience maternal death, according to the National Institutes of Health. Abortion restrictions also impact women who do want to give birth. Because medications and surgeries that are used to treat miscarriages are the same as those used for abortions, many doctors in banned abortion states are hesitant to turn to these measures. Before the overturning of Roe v. Wade, this happenstance was observed in countries such as Ireland, Italy, and Poland, where women developed sepsis after being refused treatment for miscarriage.
There are many ways for women who live in states that have banned abortion to receive the procedure, but these often don’t apply to all women. While many women have access to medical abortion pills, these measures often simply won’t work for disabled women who have certain liver, kidney, and inflammatory conditions. Many women will likely travel to other states to receive abortions, but traveling by plane is risky for women who rely on medical equipment such as wheelchairs.
One thought on “Roe v. wade overturned; a disability issue”
This is a really important issue, I’m glad you brought it up. Women who are differently-abled are often excluded from these conversations.