Why Reproductive Rights Matter to Arcus and LGBTQ Social Justice

July 6, 2022

Reproductive rights are intertwined with women’s equality and LGBTQ social justice. Fundamental to each are the rights to privacy, bodily autonomy, and safe and confidential healthcareall basic human dignities.

But with the elimination of federal abortion protections in the U.S., these rights have been set back decades, and the ramifications could extend well beyond the impacts of access to reproductive choice.

“As a result of today’s decision, some people will die because they can no longer access abortion care,” said Julianna Gonen, National Center for Lesbian Rights’ federal policy director, in a statement after the Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court ruling. “Others will have their lives ruined by not being able to make their own decisions about their health and their futures.”

Sexual minority women are among the most vulnerable demographic relying on abortion rights, NCLR and 22 other LGBTQ organizations wrote in an amicus brief in the Dobbs case last September.

“Lesbian, bisexual, and other nonheterosexual women are at least as likely as other women to experience unintended pregnancies and to require abortion care,” they wrote. “Sexual minority women are more likely to experience unintended pregnancies as a result of sexual violence. They are more likely to lack insurance. And they face widespread discrimination in the health care system, including in the provision of contraceptive care.”

Moreover, as Borealis Philanthropy highlights in its statement, trans and gender nonconforming people “rely on abortion clinics for affirming sexual and reproductive health care, safety, and community.”

Reproductive rights are also essential for LGBTQ people to access affirming healthcare and to form healthy families.

“LGBTQ+ people deserve access to the full range of family planning and reproductive health services, including access to abortion, contraception, and fertility services so that people can decide if they wish to become parents and when to do so,” Human Rights Campaign says in a data-rich fact sheet about LGBTQ people and the overturn of Roe.

Also on the minds of U.S. LGBTQ rights activists is the potential reversal of other human rights.

“As Justice Thomas makes clear in his concurrence, which openly calls for the reversal of the fundamental rights to contraception, sexual intimacy, and marriage,” NCLR’s Gonen said, “the Court’s disregard for precedent poses a clear and present danger to freedoms that are of utmost importance not only to LGBTQ people but to every person in this country.”

How Arcus partners are responding
Arcus grantee partners have long understood the intersection between reproductive and LGBTQ justice and have worked to advance and protect the rights fundamental to both movements. Below are some examples of the important work our grantees have been doing, both in preparation for this moment and on the ground responding to it.

  • For the past six months, the Proteus Fund initiative Rights, Faith & Democracy Collaborative—one of a few donor collaboratives supporting work at the intersections of faith and queer, gender, and racial justice—has been convening leaders from reproductive justice and LGBTQ+ organizations, state-based judicial independence leaders, and communications and messaging experts. The Collaborative is currently providing rapid response grants to support organizations as they implement the plans they developed during their time together.

  • SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW in Atlanta is building the next generation of reproductive justice activists and organizers by training them in organizing principles rooted in Black queer feminist values. Their response to this particular moment has been to encourage members and supporters to resource local abortion funds, like ARC Southeast, while they continue to do the vital long-term work of building a base of members across Georgia who will leverage their collective power to shift political conditions.

  • The Emerging LGBTQ Leaders of Color Fund at Borealis Philanthropy recently launched the Reproductive Justice Rapid Response Fund as a separate effort to prepare for the Supreme Court’s ruling. The new fund will support grassroots LGBTQ- and BIPOC-led organizations fronting several initiatives that include: convening organizations to align and coordinate responses to the Supreme Court ruling as well as subsequent state level impacts; providing mutual aid to those seeking care; supporting public education efforts; and other efforts to prepare for and adapt to a changing landscape.

Beyond abortion access, Arcus grantee partners at the state and national level are working to protect LGBTQ+ equality and reproductive justice from future legal threats. Equality Arizona, Equality North Carolina, Equality Florida, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund are among those working to educate policymakers about the need for comprehensive federal LGBTQ protections.

This is a sobering time in U.S. history. We join SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW in sharing this meditation on practicing hope as a discipline in this moment:

“It’s work to be hopeful. … You have to actually put in energy, time, and you have to be clear-eyed, and you have to hold fast to having a vision. It’s a hard thing to maintain. But it matters to have it, to believe that it’s possible, to change the world.” –Mariame Kaba