Roe v. Wade has been overturned, and like many, I’m devastated. There will be mass impact of this decision across systems and sectors for generations to come. As I pondered a unique way to approach this blog post, one chronic theme came to mind. Amid my concern for all populations, lies the intersection of this decision’s havoc with every iteration of trauma.
Here are the facts: There is Pervasive Trauma
- Vulnerable and marginalized populations live with rampant access to care obstacles; historical, experiential, and medical trauma are embedded within in the DNA of each person.
- Women of color are less likely to have early access to maternal health care, contraceptive care, and other reproductive health services, which puts them at a higher risk for poor maternal health outcomes.
- The Turnaway Study released last Spring revealed stark facts of trauma’s wrath for women denied an abortion.
- They are 4X as likely to end up living in poverty, stay with abusive partners, suffer from poor physical and mental health, plus have decreased aspirations.
- Collective Occupational Trauma for practitioners will further escalate as they reconcile:
- Inaccessibility of reproductive services for their patients across the states.
- Struggles for their patients (and families) suffering from ectopic pregnancy (e.g., tubal pregnancy), pregnancy loss, or other complications, especially in states with trigger bans, ready to overturn reproductive rights.
- High levels of anxiety, fear, and reluctance to render care in states where abortion is illegal, 16 states at the time of this writing and expected to rise.
There Will be More Trauma to Come
We can also expect:
- Thousands of unplanned births and the potential for increased maternal morbidity and mortality; There will be trauma.
- Increased mental health challenges for persons dealing with unwanted pregnancies; There will be trauma.
- High rates of suicidal ideation, gestures, and action for victims of rape, sexual assault, and interpersonal violence who are forced to carry a pregnancy to full-term; There will be trauma.
- A ripple effect for college-aged students facing an unwanted pregnancy, and forced to raise children on college campuses, delay, or give up hopes of earning a degree; There will be trauma.
- Persons with chronic conditions, medical, psychiatric, and intellectual disabilities often face often life-threatening conditions when forced to maintain a pregnancy. “Abortion restrictions do not only endanger people who don’t wish to be pregnant. Many people who want biological children have conditions that put them at higher risk of adverse outcomes and miscarriages…this poses clear psychological risks, as well as physical ones”; There will be trauma
- A rise in adverse childhood experiences scores for children born of unintended pregnancies, and for persons exposed to adverse life experiences; There will be trauma.
- Threats to other rights and freedoms of ALL vulnerable and marginalized populations across the diversity, equity and cultural inclusion landscape; There will be trauma.
Many associations and entities have already published position statements opposing the overturning of Roe V. Wade. This list of resources will fuel your advocacy energies:
Center for Reproductive Rights
Center for Trauma-informed Policy and Practice
International Partners for Reproductive Justice (Ipas)
National Black Women’s Reproductive Agenda
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice
National Network of Abortion Funds
Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN)
There are other countless other resources, and I invite all to add resources to this list. In the meantime, seek support by reaching out to each other: family, friends, colleagues, and counseling. Stay fierce, advocate, and ensure appropriate care for those in need. There will be ongoing emotions to reconcile as society contends with the new reality. We must be ready to ensure necessary health and mental health intervention, and for every person. After all, There will be trauma.