Domestic violence (DV) cannot be decoupled from the topic of bodily autonomy—and, by extension, abortion rights.
The SCOTUS draft opinion leak regarding overturning Roe v. Wade is the most recent spark fueling community-driven efforts to support the bodily autonomy of women and people with uteri.
Countless reports and data illustrate how DV is inextricably tied to power and control—with abusers exacting mental, physical, financial, and sexual violence on their victims to assert and maintain dominance and relational power. Abusers also frequently sabotage birth control and force unwanted sex, resulting in unwanted pregnancies—which further exacerbates the power dynamic and can trap a victim in an abusive context (e.g., if a victim is prohibited by the abuser from working and must bear a child, they often feel they have no recourse but to remain in the relationship). At its core, the effort to overturn Roe v. Wade mimics this DV dynamic; in essence, the decision to subvert the rights of women and people with uteri to their bodily autonomy is politically sanctioned DV at a national level.
As many of our community partners—and national leaders—have emphasized, overturning Roe v. Wade will not stop abortions, but rather it will stop safe abortions. Ultimately, women and people with uteri of color, especially those who are low-income and Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian/API, will be the individuals most impacted by this legislative attempt to undermine bodily autonomy. As with all policy decisions, overturning Roe v. Wade is both a racial and economic justice issue—one that will continue to disenfranchise and perpetuate racial violence against communities of color and low-income communities. Moreover, this legislative power play is central to bolstering white supremacist, capitalistic, colonial patriarchy which, again, actively works to undermine the health, wellness, and prosperity of communities of color—especially individuals who exist at the intersections of multiple oppressed identities (e.g., undocumented, disabled trans* women of color whose first language is not English).
What’s more, should Roe v. Wade be overturned, and states granted the power to decide abortion access for their residents, many state leaders have already signaled that they will not make exceptions for rape, incest, or when the safety of the mother would be jeopardized. Not only will such violent decision-making enable perpetrators of sexual violence—a high percentage of which coincides with DV—but it will further silence victims, make it harder for them to have abusers held accountable for sexual assault, and relegate women and people with uteri to “commodity” status: to serve the singular function of reproduction in a capitalistic system that is driven by a demand for subjugated laborers.
Civil rights leaders have been raising the alarm that we are at an inflection point: where legislative coups to deny anyone who is not a cisgender white man of their basic rights are becoming as commonplace as they are blatant. Here in New Mexico, Enlace is dedicated to shaping a community of care through which we interrupt intergenerational violence and foment gender equity—where communities of color are neither political pawns nor a collective afterthought, but rather are embedded in and lead solutions-focused efforts to counteract systems- and household-level violence while cultivating the next generation’s changemakers.
We will continue to work in solidarity with BIPOC, immigrant, and low-income communities to help ensure DV survivors receive the care, support, and encouragement they need to thrive—and to catalyze community-level resistance to legislative efforts to undermine the health and wellbeing of our friends, family, and neighbors.
Since Enlace Comunitario’s founding in 2000 as a social justice organization advocating for the rights of and providing resources to Latinx and immigrant DV survivors and their children, we have recognized how critical it is to center health and gender equity in our work. We also believe that operating under religious neutrality best positions us to provide uncompromised, survivor-centered care and support to any survivor in need.