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Statement on Disability Pride Month

Statement on Disability Pride Month

July is Disability Pride Month, which began in 1990 after the landmark passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)! The Reproductive Health Access Project believes that there is no reproductive liberation without full bodily autonomy for all people, including people with disabilities. We envision a world where all individuals and communities have equitable access to sexual and reproductive health care and information, free from stigma, bias, judgment, coercion, and persecution. We are committed to training, supporting, and mobilizing primary care clinicians to ensure that this vision becomes reality. We also know that the reproductive health and rights movements must do more to become more inclusive of disabled people.

Disabled people, particularly BIPOC disabled people, have long experienced violence and discrimination in health care, including reproductive health care. They have been – and continue to be – subject to forced sterilization, a form of eugenics. In 1927, the Supreme Court ruled in Buck v. Bell that a law in Virginia allowing for forced sterilization of people with intellectual disabilities did not violate the Constitution – a decision that has not been overturned. Currently, 31 states and Washington D.C. allow forced sterilization in some cases. 

Harmful and ableist assumptions that people with disabilities do not have the ability or desire to express their sexuality or to have children and/or be parents further deny people the health care that they need. Studies demonstrate that people with disabilities are less likely to receive cervical cancer screenings, prenatal care, and family planning services, and are more likely to receive sterilization. Additional barriers faced by disabled people within the health care system include inaccessible clinic spaces and equipment, lack of proper training for clinicians, clinician bias, and more.

Anti-abortion lawmakers discuss bans on abortion in cases of “fetal anomaly” as “protecting” people with disabilities, yet they consistently vote against legislation that would actually protect disabled people after birth. Conversely, we must acknowledge that the reproductive health movement has also used disability as a justification for abortion – yet another way violence is perpetuated against disabled communities. It’s critical for us to recognize that reproductive justice and disability justice are not at odds, but rather the fight for bodily autonomy and dignity in health care are foundational and intersectional.  

This Disability Pride month, we celebrate the activists and leaders in the disability justice movement who have long fought for the inclusion of disabled people in the reproductive health, rights, and justice movements. We also recognize that as an organization, RHAP must and can do more to ensure that our work better reflects and supports the reproductive needs of disabled people. 


Read our Contraceptive Pearl Reproductive Health Care for People with Physical Disabilities here

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