Pride Month is a time to honor the activism and influence of the LGBTQ+ community. It is also a time to acknowledge the work that still needs to be done in order to achieve true equality. Abortion access is one of those issues.
To begin with, abortion is health care. This has been reaffirmed by medical associations and human and civil rights organizations throughout the world, including the World Health Organization, American Public Health Association, American Medical Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Amnesty International. Research has shown that when abortion access is denied or restricted, people are more likely to stay in abusive relationships, experience economic hardships and experience serious health complications.
Such negative outcomes are only compounded for LGBTQ+ people. Members of this community already face a myriad of obstacles when seeking health care for unique issues. Barriers may include ineffective health insurance coverage, stigma and poor treatment from health care providers. Research has found that this results in delayed care and trouble finding providers. This can be particularly damaging for those who are homeless, people of color and/or ostracized from their families and communities because of who they are.
People of all gender identities and sexual orientations can experience an unwanted pregnancy. In fact, some studies have found that lesbian and bisexual women are at a higher risk of sexual assault than their heterosexual counterparts. Another study found that LGBTQ+ folks who can get pregnant are more likely to have an unplanned pregnancy before they are 20 years old. This also demands a comprehensive sex education that is LGBTQ+ inclusive, as well as broad access to contraceptives — all evidence-based practices that the Religious Right is against.
Abortion is a human right and a common medical procedure. However, it has been weaponized and wielded against marginalized communities for decades. The Hyde Amendment, which forces people on Indian Health Services Plan and government health insurance to find $600-plus to fund an abortion, is only exacerbated for those who are members of the LGBTQ+ community.
That’s why the Freedom From Religion Foundation has recently joined 90 other organizations in an open letter that calls on policymakers to protect abortion rights. Drafted by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the letter states: “It is no coincidence that we are witnessing the disappearance of reproductive autonomy at the same time that we are seeing a wave of hostile policies across the nation targeting LGBTQI+ people. Our common opponents are emboldened at a time when the Supreme Court has abandoned any pretense of protecting individual freedom and when democracy itself is under grave threat.” Read the full letter here.
As we await the decision by the Supreme Court that will decide the future of Roe v. Wade, we secular activists need to stand up for civil rights. This Pride Month, let’s call attention to the fact that abortion and reproductive health care is an LGBTQ+ issue.