Officials from the White House Gender Policy Council, the Office of Public Engagement and the Office of the Vice President called a hearing session on the impact that abortion bans and other restrictions are having on survivors of sexual assault and/or domestic violence and their ability to access reproductive health care . The participating attorneys and leaders represented national, statewide and local organizations that provide services, support and advocacy for survivors. They shared insights from service providers who work with survivors in states where abortion is now banned or severely restricted following a Supreme Court ruling Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. They also discussed the ways in which restrictions on survivors’ most personal healthcare choices violate their privacy and create additional safety concerns for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Advocates also pointed to the disproportionate impact these government bans have on survivors from historically marginalized or underserved communities.
While critical of abortion bans in several states that do not have exceptions for rape or incest, advocates also emphasize that those that do have such limited exceptions also fail to meet the needs of survivors; Most victims of sexual violence do not, and should not, report it in order to have access to all reproductive health options, including abortion. Advocates working with survivors of sexual and domestic violence pointed out that concepts such as physical autonomy and consent are critical to sexual violence prevention work. They emphasized that removing survivors’ right to make decisions about their own reproductive health further exacerbates the trauma they experience and has long-term implications. Advocates also stressed the importance of protecting the confidentiality and autonomy of all survivors to protect their safety and well-being.
White House officials thanked leaders and attorneys for their commitment to helping survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. They underscored the President’s commitment to assisting all survivors with access to services, safety, justice and healing, as well as his commitment to defending the reproductive rights of all Americans.
Organizations that participated in the listening session included:
- National Alliance to End Sexual Violence
- National Network to End Domestic Violence
- National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- Esperanza United
- New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs
- Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence
- Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault, Kansas City, MO