Officials from the White House Gender Policy Council, Office of Public Engagement, and Office of the Vice President convened a listening session on the impact that abortion bans and other restrictions have on survivors of sexual assault and/or domestic violence and their ability to access reproductive health care. The advocates and leaders who participated represented national, state-wide, and local organizations that provide services, support, and advocacy for survivors. They shared insights from service providers working with survivors in states where abortion is now banned, or severely curtailed, following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. They also discussed the ways in which restrictions on survivors’ most personal health care decisions violate their privacy and create additional safety concerns for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Advocates also raised the disproportionate impact that these state bans have on survivors from historically marginalized or underserved communities.
While critical of the abortion bans in several states that have no exceptions for rape or incest, advocates also highlighted how those that do have such limited exceptions also fail to meet the needs of survivors; most victims of sexual violence do not report it, nor should they have to in order to be able to access a full range of reproductive health care options, including abortion. Advocates who work with survivors of sexual and domestic violence indicated how concepts such as bodily autonomy and consent are crucial to the work of preventing sexual violence. They emphasized that taking away survivors’ right to make decisions about their own reproductive health further compounds the trauma they experience, and has long-term implications. Advocates also highlighted how crucial it is to protect the confidentiality and autonomy of all survivors in order to protect their safety and well-being.
White House officials thanked the leaders and advocates for their dedication to helping survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. They underscored the President’s commitment to supporting all survivors in their ability to access services, safety, justice, and healing, as well as his commitment to defending reproductive rights for 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