For people with disabilities, reproductive health care comes with deep-rooted barriers

Pregnancy, for the average person, is an exercise of extremes — swelling body, welling emotions, surging hormones. For people with chronic conditions and other disabilities, the experience can be even more jarring, full of additional barriers, stigma, and risks.

But it’s not just pregnancy. In the United States, disabled people are less likely to be taught comprehensive sexual education and given access to contraceptives, and are more likely to have unintended pregnancies. And during pregnancy, the disparities are just as devastating: Disabled women are more likely to have adverse birth outcomes and to experience pregnancy complications, in part because they often are on medications that interact negatively with pregnancy. The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn abortion as a constitutional right adds gasoline to an existing fire. “I think the Dobbs ruling has a huge, unfortunate, detrimental impact on people’s lives,” said Monika Mitra, director of the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at Brandeis University.

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