Roe’s overthrow poses significant threat to LGBTQ+ reproductive health care, report says

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The story at a glance

  • Lesbian, bisexual and queer (LGB) women are more likely to have unwanted or mistimed pregnancies than heterosexual women, according to the report released Tuesday.

Lesbian, bisexual and queer (LGB) women, non-binary people and transgender men are more likely to need abortion services and reproductive health care if they become pregnant, according to a new report from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, an LGBTQ+ rights group, noting the outsized impact that the overturning of Roe v. Wade — and abandoning nearly five decades of precedent — would have on LGBTQ+ Americans.

In a report released Tuesday, HRC Director of Public Education and Research Shoshana K. Goldberg said LBQ women who have been pregnant are more likely to have unwanted or mistimed pregnancies than women heterosexual, primarily due to more frequent negative interactions with reproductive health care providers who lend themselves to lower rates of contraceptive use and increased use of emergency contraception such as Plan B.

In a 2014 survey by the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research organization, six percent of all women in the United States who reported having had an abortion in a non-hospital setting identified as a sexual orientation other than heterosexual.

Among all cisgender women using contraception, LBQ women are nearly twice as likely as straight women to use contraception like hormonal birth control to manage a medical condition, according to Goldberg, citing Kaiser Family Foundation research .

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Access to these drugs should be put in a vulnerable position if Roe is overthrown, as should access to other forms of reproductive health care like IVF, IUI and home insemination which are increasingly increasingly used by same-sex couples to become parents.

LBQ cisgender women are also more likely to experience pregnancy as a result of nonconsensual dating, Goldberg says — a salient point underscored because many state abortion bans that would go into effect if Roe were overturned do not contain no exceptions for survivors of rape or incest.

Goldberg points out that transgender men and non-binary people also need access to abortion and reproductive health care, and a study published last year in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that over of 1,700 transgender, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming adults assigned female or intersex at birth, 4% reported having had an abortion, including 32% of those who had ever been pregnant.

In a 2019 HRC Foundation report, 36% of transgender people who had been pregnant said they were considering ending their pregnancy “without clinical supervision” or through self-directed abortion, which can be extremely dangerous if it is not done correctly.

Of those who attempted to terminate their pregnancies through self-directed abortion, about a quarter used physical trauma on themselves, according to the report. Reasons for avoiding healthcare professionals included intimate partner violence, fear for their personal safety, and denial of care due to their doctor’s opinion on abortion or their gender identity.

“LGBTQ+ people depend on access to reproductive health care,” Goldberg said in a statement Tuesday. “If Roe is overthrown, the impact on our community will be enormous – especially because data shows that lesbian, gay, bisexual and homosexual cisgender women, as well as transgender men and non-binary people referred to as women at the birth are equally – and sometimes more – likely to need abortion services.

“Reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy are essential for our community,” Goldberg said, “and the data shows it.”

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