72 Am. U. L. Rev. 1821 (2023).
The United States is experiencing the convergence of two crises threatening the reproductive freedom of people with disabilities and other historically marginalized groups: the COVID-19 pandemic and a rising assault on reproductive rights, including the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision. This convergence has created a perfect storm, revealing the depth of existing reproductive injustices endured by disabled people and forcing a reckoning with the consequences of permitting such inequities to persist. As such, urgent attention by activists, scholars, legal professionals, and policymakers is necessary.
This Article proposes a vision for addressing the deeply entrenched reproductive injustices experienced by people with disabilities during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. First, it examines the persistent reproductive oppression of disabled people, including reproductive health and healthcare inequities, barriers to information, contraception, and abortion, risks to self-determination and autonomy, and parenting challenges and threats. Next, it presents disability reproductive justice and explains the significance of this jurisprudential and legislative framework for achieving reproductive freedom for people with disabilities during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, drawing from the disability reproductive justice framework, this Article concludes by suggesting legal and policy solutions to address disabled people’s immediate reproductive needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a path forward for dismantling the roots of the longstanding reproductive inequities they experience. It also considers issues requiring further attention and inquiry.
* Robyn M. Powell, Ph.D., J.D. is an Associate Professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. The author extends her appreciation to Lauren Bishop, student at Stetson University College of Law, for her invaluable research assistance.