Hatcher: ‘Pregnancy and violence can go hand in hand’
INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana State Representative Ragen Hatcher (D-Gary) today issued the guest column below that reflects her views on the overturning of Roe v. Wade with a perspective on domestic violence and women's safety:
Pregnancy and violence can go hand in hand.
To some, pregnancy represents the start of a new life from love and safety.
But to one in three women in the U.S., pregnancy represents a never-ending nightmare of abuse.
According to the American College of Obstetricians Gynecologists, one in six abused women is first abused during pregnancy. The same study has also shown that homicide is a leading cause of death during pregnancy and the postpartum period in the United States.
Unfortunately, because of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, those homicide rates will continue to increase exponentially.
When speaking of domestic violence, many fail to recognize the role that pregnancy plays in exacerbating the cycle of abuse in relationships. The physical, emotional, and economic imposition of pregnancy on women, coupled with raising a child, makes it harder for those in abusive situations to leave. Abusers strategically use a pregnancy to trap victims in inescapable situations. Access to abortion has served as a lifeline for victims of domestic abuse. This is reflected in the fact that 6% to 22% of women terminate their pregnancies because they are in an abusive relationship.
Additionally, women in abusive relationships are among the least likely to be able to travel out of state or safely self-manage a medication abortion at home, leaving them no choice but to carry a pregnancy to term.
Many of the survivors who seek abortion services report that their abusive partners have severely limited their childbearing decision. This act, referred to as reproductive coercion, is defined by an abuser controlling their partner’s reproductive autonomy. That includes limiting access to birth control, forcing a partner to get pregnant, and impacting the outcome of a pregnancy. The reclaiming of reproductive autonomy by utilizing abortion services cuts the tether between a survivor and their abuser.
Reproductive coercion is disproportionately felt by women of lower socioeconomic status, single women, and African American, Latina and multiracial women. Because of this fact, those women are also more likely to ultimately die from unsafe, illegal abortions.
Our state has the responsibility to advocate for and protect women suffering from domestic abuse. We must do all we can to help them by providing a path forward to recovery, safety, and freedom. That path should always include safe and accessible abortions. By taking away a woman’s right to autonomy, Indiana Republicans are re-victimizing survivors of domestic violence and empowering abusers.
It’s our duty to legislate on behalf of the living, breathing citizens who are residents of this state. And 42.5% of Hoosier women experience domestic violence at some point in their lives - that puts us as the sixth-worst state in the country for domestic violence.
An abortion ban will only equip and empower abusers with another tool to trap women in horrible, traumatic situations. A vote for an abortion ban is a vote for worsening the cycle of domestic violence in our state.