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How Ending Roe Harms Domestic Violence Survivors

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NY Daily News
By Liz Roberts

I have spent my entire career fighting to end gender-based violence. That experience has made it crystal clear to me that reproductive rights and the right to live free from intimate partner and sexual violence are two sides of the same coin.

The recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is a serious setback for this country and especially for survivors of intimate partner and sexual violence.

I have lost count of the number of times survivors have talked to me about how their reproductive freedom was held hostage by a partner as a part of the pattern of abuse. Endless stories about partners who sabotaged birth control, prevented a survivor from using protection during sex, forced a survivor to get an abortion, or prevented a survivor from getting an abortion.

These abusers know something that our Supreme Court doesn’t seem to understand or care about: Preventing someone from making choices about their own body is one of the most powerful and destructive ways to exert control.

Survivors will suffer because of this decision by the high court.

Many survivors will be forced to stay in violent situations that are extremely dangerous. Others will be forced to choose between the threat of dying in a back-alley abortion or facing a life-threatening situation at home. Still others might have to choose between facing jail time for traveling out of state for an abortion or carrying the child of the person who hurt them.

Victims of human trafficking will be forced to have children they had no choice in conceiving. Children who have been raped by fathers, uncles or other family members will be forced to remain pregnant. Survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault, who already feel they have lost control of their bodies and lives, will be forced to endure the additional trauma of staying pregnant and bearing the child of their rapist.

Victims of domestic violence will be forced to have more children, which can make leaving an abusive situation much more difficult. And they will face greater physical risk because we know that in abusive relationships, violence often escalates during pregnancy.

In New York State, abortion is still legal and access to facilities throughout the state and here in New York City are available to those in need.

I’m grateful for that, and also grateful to the companies that are enacting benefits to assist their employees with travel to states that still legally allow abortions. But I worry about the survivors who will come here.

Inevitably, those survivors will be those in most desperate need. And they will be those with the fewest resources and the greatest vulnerability — for example, survivors who are people of color, transgender, undocumented, or have experienced multiple traumas — because history has taught us that wealthy women, especially wealthy white women, will be able to access safe abortions no matter the laws in their state. Organizations like Safe Horizon will need resources to support those survivors.

The court’s decision denies the basic humanity of survivors and compounds their trauma. Everyone deserves a right to have control over their own bodies and decisions that can impact the rest of their lives and their unborn children’s lives. We will keep fighting until that is a reality.

Read the original article here.

Liz Roberts, MSW has been Safe Horizon’s CEO since 2021 and has worked in the domestic violence community for more than 30 years. For more information on her career see our Executive Leadership page.

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