|Violence Free Colorado wants to express our collective disappointment and anger at the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, thus ending the constitutional right to abortion.
As the state’s domestic violence coalition, we feel a tremendous sense of responsibility to our constituents in the state right now. We feel a responsibility to raise awareness about the impact this decision will have on the material reality for survivors of interpersonal violence, and to amplify the ongoing work of direct service organizations and advocates in the state who help survivors navigate the emotional, financial, and legal impacts of violence. We also feel compelled to provide our member organizations with information, resources, and connection, so they may serve survivors equitably and safely. We take these responsibilities seriously and are working as a staff to anticipate and respond to needs.
Abortion access is critical in anti-violence work for many life-saving reasons. Relationship violence, which is rooted in power and control, often manifests as control over a survivor’s bodily autonomy. Reproductive coercion can include sexual assault, sabotaging of birth control, monitoring of menstruation, and forced repeated pregnancies. When forced to continue a pregnancy, survivors may remain bound to an abusive situation, placing them and their children at continued risk of escalating violence. Homicide is the leading cause of death for pregnant people, making the right to access safe and affordable reproductive services a literal life or death issue.
This ruling may push survivors in neighboring states to travel to Colorado seeking the reproductive healthcare they need. This will increase the volume of caseloads in advocacy agencies across the state. In anticipation of this decision we’ve already begun dialogue with community partners and experts. We’re working to build training opportunities in the next few months and we’re always available for individual technical assistance.
We know that violence and oppression overlap and must be addressed that way. As a coalition we are grounded in the work of Audre Lorde, who said, ”There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” Communities of color have spent decades drawing attention to the ways that reproductive justice (a movement birthed by Black women) is intertwined with other justice movements. Attacks on reproductive justice disproportionately harm communities of color, 2SLGBTQ (Two Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) people, low-income families, and survivors of domestic violence. Historically, there is a direct connection to how women of color have been victims of countless eugenicist practices that have taken bodily autonomy from them and their children, causing generational impacts including forced sterilization, removal of children into boarding schools, predatory adoptions, over-representation in foster care and prisons, and so much more.
Survivors in Colorado continue to face systemic barriers rooted in racism, colonialism, xenophobia, misogyny, heterosexism, classism, ableism, religious imperialism, and transphobia. So, while abortion is still currently legal in Colorado, we still have much work to do and cannot ignore that these forms of violence are connected and enforced by power and control.
In full transparency, our organization is undergoing considerable transition right now. With this transition comes an opportunity for us to engage our work with a renewed sense of intentionality and purpose. Crafting this statement was about more than simply word-smithing what to put on paper. More so, it was an opportunity to explore what it means to be a state-wide coalition, to consider what lies ahead of us, and to double-down on our commitment to working in partnership with survivors and other anti-oppression movements to address the root causes of violence.
The ways we show up for survivors, our communities, and ourselves in this moment matters. It does not need to be perfect, but it does need to include a process of self-reflection about our own areas of privilege, the language we use, and how we are connected to generations of intersectional oppression and resistance. As a coalition, Violence Free Colorado knows that dismantling kyriarchy can’t be done alone or in silos. We are committed to exploring how we can honor the influences of multiple social justice movements without competing, controlling, co-opting, or watering down their work. To quote activist Richie Reseda, “Liberation is not a time, it is not a goal, it is not a finite place to arrive. Liberation is our way of being as we fight for freedom.”