These two articles elaborate on the intersection between immigrant rights and reproductive rights and how the Supreme Courts’ decision on June 24th, 2022 impacts the work of Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates.
Ripple Effects on Immigrants; Roe v. Wade Overturned
By Molly Douma
Due to the novelty of this ruling, data does not yet exist to inform us of the impact this will have on childbearing people within the United States. The content of this blog relies on historical examples and other currently known facts.
The nation is continuing to process what June 24th’s Supreme Court ruling means for access to reproductive health throughout the country. During this time, we must recognize how this ruling affects the work of Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates (LIA) and the immigrant population we serve. The purpose of this blog is to examine the intersection of immigration rights and the right to healthcare. We believe that the right to safe and legal abortion is a crucial aspect of reproductive healthcare that has been taken away from individuals throughout the country because of the Supreme Court’s decision.
Health clinics in states such as Illinois and New Mexico that neighbor places where abortion is or will be outlawed are preparing for potentially tens of thousands of patients crossing state borders to receive an abortion.1 Barriers to this journey will disproportionately affect immigrants and undocumented Americans. Median weekly earnings of those born outside of the United States are approximately 20% lower than those of native-born counterparts,2 and these lower wages make it more challenging to access childcare, take time off for interstate travel, or afford transportation.
Among immigrants without legal status, additional challenges exist. For example, due to the high-risk nature of heightened security in airports for those without legal documentation, many are limited to ground transportation. In Texas, women seeking to reach clinics in New Mexico risk driving through multiple border checkpoints on the potentially 10-12 hour drive it would take to get the nearest abortion clinic.3
Barriers to reproductive healthcare will disproportionately affect immigrants and undocumented Americans.
The rise in the criminalization of abortions is a likely result of the Roe v. Wade ruling. While abortion is currently only considered a felony by those who perform the procedure in states like Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisana, some warn that future policies may criminalize women seeking abortions as well.4 Attempts at criminalizing those seeking abortion care are not new – between 1973 and 2020, there were at least 1,700 cases of women arrested, prosecuted, convicted, detained, or forced to undergo medical interventions because of their pregnancy status or outcomes.5 This newfound fear of accessing reproductive healthcare is added to the already massive list of barriers noncitizens face when seeking healthcare.
Most state policies have not yet implemented felony convictions of any kind for abortion-seekers themselves, but further criminalization would be a significant risk for immigrants seeking legal status in the United States. Convictions and criminal records have severe implications on applications for citizenship, work permits, DACA, and other processes within the immigration system. Individuals entering or applying for legal status within the U.S. can be found “inadmissible” based on any previous convictions of a misdemeanor or felony. By criminalizing abortion for individuals seeking the procedure, their eligibility for benefits such as asylum, legal permanent residency, and even citizenship would be affected.
It is essential to remain informed about constantly changing policies and who they are impacting. As reproductive rights are restricted, and uncertainty runs rampant, the work of LIA and you, our partners, remains as crucial as ever to bring stability to our community through legal services, education, and advocacy.
- Immigration & Abortion Care: Why Reproductive Rights are Inextricable from Migration
- Miscarriage of Justice: The Danger of Laws Criminalizing Pregnancy Outcomes
- What you need to know about Michigan’s 1931 abortion law
- US women are being jailed for having miscarriages
- Abortion worries heightened for unauthorized immigrants in the U.S.
- For undocumented immigrants, it’s nearly impossible to get an abortion in South Texas
- Overturning Roe Would Create More Barriers for Asylum-Seekers and Immigrants
Why Advocacy for One is Advocacy for Both
Opinion Piece by Kallen Mohr
On June 24th , the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade, thus ending the decades-long precedent protecting a person’s constitutional right to abortion.1 Abortion is defined as a “procedure to end pregnancy” in which the pregnancy is ended by a “licensed health care professional” through either a “medical abortion” or a “surgical abortion.”2 These procedures can be medically necessary to perform an intervention that can preserve someone’s health or even save their life.3
Everyone’s reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy must be protected, no matter who they are. Thus, reproductive rights, like the right to have an abortion, are the essential rights of any human being to determine their own reproductive decisions and destinies. Such rights must be fought for—to ensure the protection of equality and healthcare for all.
What does this have to do with immigration?
Reproductive justice is immigrant justice—full stop.
Immigrants, like any other person in the United States, are entitled to the protection of fundamental human rights and the repeated promise of our country to provide “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” However, this is not the reality. Immigrants, especially those living undocumented, represent a uniquely vulnerable group with little protection of their access to public services and healthcare, like abortion.
In the past, the reproductive agency and human rights of immigrants have been violated by those who have detained them. Women in ICE custody have been sterilized without their consent and gone without proper medical care for pregnancies. The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) denied abortion procedures to those who wanted them and pressured women to carry to term against their wishes.4
Such revelations are only a continuation of America’s long history of forced sterilization, eugenics, and reproductive injustice.5 This history is tied to race. Black, Latinx/Hispanic, and Indigenous women have systematically been denied proper reproductive healthcare. They have had their fundamental bodily freedom violated by the State, both through the law and through its failure to provide accessible resources. This pattern continues to this day.6
The Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade will affect those with white privilege and class privilege, but not to the same extent as those without these same privileges. The brunt of the Court’s decision to deny this fundamental human right will fall on those whose rights have been so easily denied in the past. It will fall on those who are systematically oppressed and given little protection or care by our country, like Black, Latinx, LGBTQIA+, low-income communities, and of course, immigrants.
Reproductive justice is immigrant justice—full stop.
Fortunately, there are those across our state who are unwilling to let reproductive rights quietly fall away. Organizations like Planned Parenthood, ACLU, and Michigan Voices worked to sponsor a petition to protect abortion in the Michigan constitution. The “Michigan Right to Reproductive Freedom Initiative” petition gained 753,759 signatures, well over the required 425,059 signature minimum.7 The decision to make reproductive freedom a constitutional right within the state of Michigan will now be up to Michigan voters in November, to amend the Michigan State Constitution to append Article 1, Section 28.8
I encourage anyone who believes in the protection of human rights and the insurance of reproductive freedom to turn out in November and vote. Vote for yourself, your community, and the people of Michigan, including the immigrant community. Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates is offering a safe space to educate people about these events and the citizens’ opportunities to advocate and vote. To find out more visit their Repro Letter-Writing Campaign Event.