Senators introduce bill to help people with disabilities access reproductive health care

Senators Duckworth, D-Ill., and Murray, D-Wash., introduced legislation to help bridge the gap in reproductive health care access for people with disabilities.

Democratic Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Patty Murray introduced legislation Thursday to help bridge the gap in reproductive health care access for people with disabilities in the wake of the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade. 

The bill, called the Reproductive Health Care Accessibility Act, would provide funding for training and education programs focused on reproductive health care specifically for this group of people. It also would add more doctors and nurses with disabilities to the workforce and calls for a study analyzing reproductive health for disabled communities. 

The new legislation comes weeks after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion. 

“I want it to restore bodily autonomy to the community of persons with disabilities,” Duckworth, of Illinois, a double-amputee who lost her legs while serving in the U.S. Army, told NBC News of the proposed law. “We constantly have our bodily autonomy questioned. There’s this horrendous history of forced sterilizations, refusal to allow access to fertility treatments or birth control or abortions. So we absolutely had to be clear to enshrine the rights of persons with disabilities to have their bodily autonomy and, in this case, to deal with their own reproductive rights.” 

As of 2019, at least 12.7% of the U.S. population lived with a disability — from speech and limb differences to mobile and developmental disabilities, according to census data. About 1 in 10 people with disabilities are able to become pregnant, and there are more than 4 million parents with disabilities in the country, the senators note in the bill.

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