More than a week ago, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and in doing so they took from millions the fundamental right to bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom. The ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health is particularly disturbing because of the historical treatment of disabled people by our judicial and medical systems. Not even 100 years ago, in Buck v. Bell, the Supreme Court upheld a law allowing forced sterilization of people with disabilities deemed “unfit” to reproduce.
Today, disabled people are still told by medical professionals that they should consider sterilization rather than risk passing on a disability to their child. This devaluing of the disabled life is very real. So often, vulnerable people from our community are acted upon rather than honored for their choices. The overturning of Roe causes fear as people with disabilities will be disproportionately impacted, as will women, BIPOC communities, immigrants, people with limited economic means, youth, LGBTQIA+ communities, and people without the resources to travel or seek other supports.
Our healthcare system has been more harmful to people of multiply marginalized identities, including individuals within disability communities. This decision reinforces those injustices. The overturning of Roe is a strike against healthcare access and health equity through intentional government action.
We are grateful that Colorado has been prepared for this detrimental decision and remains steadfast in its commitment to bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom with strong laws reinforcing the right to abortion. We also recognize that people living in many of our neighboring states are not so fortunate, as these rights are going to be stripped away. In this moment, we are grieving, but we will continue to fight for Coloradans and our neighbors.
The disability rights movement is driven by disabled people committed to justice where no one is left behind. You can take away Roe, but you cannot take our voices and wisdom—in whatever ways we communicate—when it comes to what our bodies and minds need. Now is the time to fight!
On Behalf of Disability Law Colorado,
Carrie Basas, Executive Director; Emily Harvey, Interim Legal Director; Kelly McCullough, Interim Legal Director; and Meghan Baker, Interim Legal Director