This spring, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear its first abortion case in a decade. In Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt (formerly Whole Woman's Health v. Cole), the Court will decide whether Texas' latest abortion restrictions are an "undue burden" on the constitutional right to have an abortion. If upheld, Texas' restrictions will result in the closure of almost every abortion clinic in the state.
Legal Voice has submitted an amicus brief—joined by 32 of the nation’s leading law professors, researchers, and advocacy organizations—that addresses the impact of these types of restrictions on domestic violence survivors. The brief explains the experience of reproductive coercion and its role in abusive relationships; as far as we know, it's the first brief ever to focus on that particular angle.
We are concerned that if Texas’ unnecessary restrictions on abortion providers are upheld, survivors of intimate partner violence will be forced to continue coerced, unwanted, and potentially dangerous pregnancies. Abusive partners often use both rape and “reproductive coercion"—which includes sabotaging birth control, refusing to allow the use of birth control, and other tactics—to control their intimate partners. These attacks frequently result in unintended, coerced pregnancies, and pregnant survivors often choose to have an abortion. For many survivors, ending a pregnancy will help ensure that they can get away from the abusive partner, and avoid further violence. But getting an abortion can be extremely difficult for a woman in an abusive relationship, because her abuser may control her access to finances, transportation, and health care. The closure of abortion clinics across Texas will make it even harder, and in some cases impossible, for a woman in an abusive relationship to access abortion.
Survivors face numerous barriers to health and safety, and burdensome restrictions on abortion only add to those barriers. We must ensure survivors have access to abortion so that they can decide and act on what is best for them.
- Blog: Justice Kennedy and the Undue Burden by Catherine Roseman