Roe v. Wade is a not just a victory for the reproductive rights movement, but for the domestic violence movement as well. Protecting and preserving a person’s rights over their own bodies, and their right to make decisions is an affirmation of their human dignity and is immensely empowering. Not having ownership over your own body is an act of violence perpetrated by the state and whomever else seeks to control your choices.
The women we work with at Sakhi for South Asian Women (a gender-justice and gender-based violence focused organization) struggle and strategize every day to regain and maintain control over their bodies, lives and choices. They have been forced to continue pregnancies to term, to take emergency contraception, to have abortions. They’ve been beaten until they lost pregnancies. They’ve been raped by their husbands.
Our work to support survivors of violence on their path to safety, empowerment and healing requires us to address those instances in which survivors do not have control and help them reclaim that power. This means providing immigration support so that one’s legal status in this country is not dependent on their abuser. Providing skills-building and job placement support so that they can own their finances. Supporting survivors and their children in obtaining an education. And lastly, ensuring the ability to access health care – which includes abortion care. Ending violence and reclaiming power implicates the rights to make decisions over your own body, life and future.
Roe v. Wade protects a woman’s right to abortion, but it also preserves the human dignity of women as being whole and autonomous – not controlled by state, by family, by anything other than their own selves.
So happy birthday again Roe – from those of us working on gender-based violence issues. I hope we can celebrate together, more shared victories that promote and protect the health and human rights of all people.