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September 2021



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On Monday, ASAN and the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) filed an amicus brief in a Supreme Court case about reproductive choice. An amicus brief is a way for people who aren’t participating in a lawsuit to tell a court what decision it should make. The brief explains how important it is for people with disabilities to make choices about our own bodies.  

The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, is about a Mississippi law that bans abortions more 15 weeks after a person’s last period. The Supreme Court said decades ago that this is against the Constitution. The State of Mississippi is asking the Court to change its mind. 

“If the Supreme Court does change its mind, that could threaten many other rights,” said Sam Crane, ASAN’s Legal Director. “It could mean that states can totally ban abortion. It could also mean that states could force people with disabilities to have abortions.” There have been cases where courts ordered disabled people to have abortions. Those courts were overruled because the Supreme Court said that it should always be a pregnant person’s own choice. If the Supreme Court changes its mind, our choices to get pregnant and have children could also be in danger. 

ASAN and DREDF’s amicus brief explains that when the government decides what happens to our bodies, that can hurt us. For example, the government has forced disabled people to get operations that prevent us from having children. The brief also explains that some people with disabilities can face extra harm if we can’t make choices about whether to stay pregnant. It talks about why sometimes, people with disabilities might not be able to make a decision and get an abortion before 15 weeks. It explains that disabled people of color and disabled people living in poverty face extra barriers and health risks. You can read the amicus brief here.

To write the amicus brief, ASAN talked to many disabled people who got abortions, including people of color and trans people. They talked about how much it mattered to be able to make their own decision. Some said they would have died if they had been forced to stay pregnant. We’re grateful to them for sharing their stories.

ASAN also is grateful to the Center for Reproductive Rights, which helped to organize the brief, to volunteer lawyers at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, who helped to research and write the brief, and to WeTestify, which helped connect us to people with important lived experiences. 

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network seeks to advance the principles of the disability rights movement with regard to autism. ASAN believes that the goal of autism advocacy should be a world in which autistic people enjoy equal access, rights, and opportunities. We work to empower autistic people across the world to take control of our own lives and the future of our common community, and seek to organize the autistic community to ensure our voices are heard in the national conversation about us. Nothing About Us, Without Us!

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