Freedom to make choices is a human right. This includes the right to make choices about having sex and having children. All people, including people with disabilities, have these rights.
People with disabilities often don’t get the same right to make choices as people without disabilities. This is especially true when it comes to choices about having sex and having children. Other people might tell us that we aren’t ready to have sex or have children. Other people might tell us that we can’t make good choices around having sex or having children. All these things are wrong. People with disabilities can make choices for ourselves. This includes choices around having sex and having children. You can learn more about the right to make choices on our issue page about making choices.
People with disabilities also have the right to sexual and reproductive health care. Sexual and reproductive health care is health care related to having sex and having children. Sexual and reproductive health care includes things like:
- Birth control (also known as contraception). Birth control is medication that makes it so you can’t get pregnant as long as you keep taking it.
- Abortion. Abortion is when a pregnant person decides to end their pregnancy without giving birth.
- Good health care before, during, and after pregnancy
- Accurate information and education about sex and sexual health (sex education)
- LGBTQ+ health and health care
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) prevention and treatment. STIs are germs you can get from having sex.
Right now, people with disabilities often don’t have access to good sexual and reproductive health care. This can be because of laws making certain types of sexual and reproductive health care, like abortion, against the law. This can be because other people think we shouldn’t get some types of sexual and reproductive health care. This can be because doctors don’t know how to give people with disabilities good sexual and reproductive health care.
All these things create a disparity in health care between people with disabilities and people without disabilities. A disparity is an unfair difference between two groups. Right now, the disparity is that people with disabilities get worse health care than people without disabilities. This includes sexual and reproductive health care.
Access to good health care is a human right. Access to good sexual and reproductive health care is a human right. Access to health care like birth control and abortion is a human right. You can learn more about access to health care on our issue page about health care.
People with disabilities have a right to make choices, just like anyone else. We have a right to have children and start a family, just like anyone else. In the past, we often didn’t get the right to have children and start a family. In some cases, we still don’t have that right. That is wrong! It is wrong when people do not respect our rights. Everyone should have the right to have children and start a family.
What is Reproductive Justice?
Reproductive justice is a human right. (“Reproductive” means “related to having children.”) Reproductive justice says that all people have the right to:
- Have bodily autonomy and self-determination
- Have children, if they want to
- Not have children, if they want to
- Parent their children in a safe and healthy world
Women of color, especially Black women, coined the term “reproductive justice.” The reproductive justice movement focuses on more than just whether abortion is legal. The reproductive justice movement focuses on whether abortion is accessible to all people. Reproductive justice focuses on whether people can access abortion in their area. Reproductive justice focuses on whether people can afford to pay for an abortion.
Reproductive justice also focuses on more than just abortion. Reproductive justice also talks about access to things like:
- Birth control
- Sexual education
- Health care during pregnancy
- Safe homes and living spaces
- Getting paid enough to support a family
Reproductive justice is really important. It is important that people have access to all different kinds of choices around pregnancy, abortion, and parenting. It is important that people have all the information and resources they need to live the life they want. It is important that people have all the information and resources they need to choose whether or not they have children.
For example: People of color are more likely than white people to not have a lot of money. People of color are less likely than white people to have safe, stable housing. When people don’t have a lot of money or safe housing, they may feel like they can’t have children, even if they want to. Making sure people have enough money that they feel they can have children is part of reproductive justice. Making sure people have safe, stable housing where they feel they can have children is part of reproductive justice.
Reproductive justice is also about health and safety during pregnancy and giving birth. All people deserve to be safe and healthy during pregnancy. But in the United States, about 700 people die each year because of pregnancy or its complications. (Complications are medical conditions that happen because someone is pregnant. For example, some people develop diabetes while pregnant. Their diabetes is a complication of pregnancy.) Black people are much more likely than white people to die because of pregnancy or its complications. One study found that Black people are 3 times as likely as white people to die because of pregnancy or its complications. We don’t know exactly why this is. But we think it is because of racism in the health care system. We think it is because doctors take less good care of Black pregnant people than they do of white pregnant people.
Reproductive justice is important to people with disabilities. Like we already talked about, people with disabilities are more likely to be forcibly sterilized. Also, when people with disabilities do have children, the government might say we can’t be good parents because we have disabilities. The government might take our children away from us because we have disabilities. This is wrong! People with disabilities can be good parents. We deserve to parent our children, just like other parents do.
We don’t just want to work toward a world where abortion is legal. We want to work toward a world where abortion, parenting, and other choices about pregnancy are accessible to everyone. We want to work towards a world where people who want abortions can get them without having to travel long distances or spend a lot of money. We want to work towards a world where people who want to have children can parent their children in safe, healthy environments without fearing the government will take their children away.
- Bodily Autonomy and the Right to Privacy: What They Are, How They Affect People with Disabilities, and Why We Need to Protect Them
- Abortion: What It Is and Why It Matters to People with Disabilities
- Parenting: Our Right to Have Children and Start a Family
- Sex Education: We’ve Got the Right to Know!
- Birth Control: Helping Us Plan When, and If, We Have Children
- Sexual and Reproductive Health Care: Making Sure We Are Healthy