Press Release |

New Report: Abortion Decriminalization Is Part Of The Larger Struggle Against Policing And Criminalization

For Immediate Release: November 15, 2021

New Report: Abortion Decriminalization Is Part Of The Larger Struggle Against Policing And Criminalization

Today, Physicians for Reproductive Health and seven other organizations in the reproductive justice and criminal legal spaces released a new report entitled Abortion Decriminalization Is Part Of The Larger Struggle Against Policing And Criminalization. The report analyzes the links between the growing criminalization of abortion and broader patterns of surveillance, policing and criminalization that target Black, Indigenous, migrant, disabled, queer and trans people, as well as people with low incomes.

This report follows the implementation of Texas’ near-total abortion ban, in which abortion providers and anyone who helps someone get an abortion could face legal penalties. Now, reproductive justice leaders and advocates that have organized for years around the intersection of reproductive autonomy and general decriminalization efforts offer an analysis of how the two issues are connected, and a call for both movements to work more closely together to stop the widening web of criminalization.

The report includes strategic recommendations for organizers and advocates to push back against the criminalization of reproductive autonomy, including:

  • Amplifying and lifting up the history, framing and demands of the Reproductive Justice (RJ) movement, and an intersectional framework that extends beyond “choice.”
  • Divesting from mechanisms and sites that criminalize reproductive autonomy, such as the practice of providers reporting patients to the police 
  • Investing in affirming care, bodily autonomy and reproductive justice.
  • Destigmatizing abortion and helping shift the culture around abortion from stigma, isolation, and shame to love, community, and compassion.

Dr. Jamila Perritt, president and CEO of Physicians for Reproductive Health and a contributor to the report, issued the following statement:

“Criminalizing people for seeking an abortion is antithetical to public health. Unfortunately, for decades too many clinicians have colluded with the carceral system to punish people for seeking the health care they need due to the outcomes of their pregnancies. In the wake of Texas’ draconian, near total abortion ban, it is imperative that all of us, especially health care providers, refuse to be complicit in the web of surveillance and policing that targets pregnant people and limits their autonomy. No one should be criminalized for having an abortion or helping someone else do so.”

The report was co-authored with the Abortion Care Network, If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice, National Network of Abortion Funds, Interrupting Criminalization, Human Impact Partners, the Academy of Perinatal Harm Reduction and Elephant Circle.