Some reports following New York’s passage of the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) asserted that the RHA somehow increases the risk of gender violence. Pregnancy Justice and Professor Julie Goldscheid (CUNY Law School) authored a statement challenging those claims, and other false claims linking laws criminalizing abortion and related feticide laws with protection of women from violence.
Claims that laws such as the RHA pose a threat to women’s safety, and that laws criminalizing abortion somehow protect people from gender violence are dangerous and totally unfounded. We write to speak out against gender violence in all its forms and to oppose false claims about criminal abortion laws that distract attention from real threats to life and health.
We call for laws and policies based on evidence-based research and urge all those who are truly concerned with preventing intimate partner and other forms of gender violence to oppose laws that can be used to criminalize people for seeking to control their bodies and their lives. Instead, they should support universal health care and other needed services for everyone, including survivors.
This statement, signed by 91 individuals and 32 allied organizations, will be circulated broadly to policymakers and to the media whenever this issue (equating criminal abortion laws with protecting pregnant women from violence) emerges. This statement will provide important insights and framing in states where activists are working to repeal their old criminal abortion laws and replace them with laws like the RHA that actually respect the life and health of everyone, including those with the capacity for pregnancy. It will anticipate and be used to oppose false claims and counterproductive policy proposals that emerge whenever there is a high profile murder of or attack on a pregnant woman. And, the statement will stand as a repudiation of such things as the Kansas Resolution condemning New York’s RHA. The statement also will inform conversations about gender violence occurring in the wake of Alabama’s sweeping anti-abortion legislation that effectively bans all abortions without an exception for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.