Access to reproductive health care continues to be eroded in the United States. In 2022 alone, 41 states have introduced more than 500 abortion restrictions, and the U.S. Supreme Court is slated to decide a case that will determine the fate of Roe v. Wade. Attacks on reproductive health care have a disproportionate impact on certain individuals and communities—particularly the disability community.
Reproductive and disability justice are both human rights-based frameworks that, at their core, share fundamental similarities: They both prioritize the right to bodily autonomy and self-determination; the right to raise children—if one chooses to have them—with dignity and in a safe environment; the right to access the health care one needs, free from political interference or stigmatization; and the right to community care. Yet even with such overlaps, the reproductive justice and disability justice movements have rarely interacted due to misunderstanding and miscommunication, particularly around abortion.
This report reviews the historical context of the disability and reproductive justice movements, discussing how racism, sexism, and ableism have built discriminatory structures—from barriers to accessing reproductive health services to issues around forced sterilization, sex education, guardianship, parenthood, and sexual violence—that have kept disabled people, particularly disabled people of color, from achieving reproductive equity and justice. It then discusses the work done by the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress, which is an interdisciplinary team that utilizes a disability justice framework to study structural discrimination and its impacts on policy. Lastly, this report outlines future plans, emphasizing the importance of collaboration between the two movements.