The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence mourns the catastrophic Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) rulings issued in the cases of NYSRPA v. Bruen (yesterday, undermining gun safety laws) and Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization (today, overturning Roe v. Wade). While we mourn, we also praise Congress for passing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.
Says Ruth M. Glenn, NCADV’s President & CEO, “These two court rulings show how deeply entrenched the patriarchy is in our institutions. They have erased decades of progress toward gender equality and safety for victims and survivors of domestic violence. Today, the United States is less safe for women than it was only two days ago. Today, women’s right to control their own bodies was stripped away in half of the country. Today, the forces of coercive control and violence won a victory over the forces of freedom and safety.”
In the Dobbs decision, SCOTUS has taken away what was previously considered a fundamental right for people with uteruses to make critical health decisions for themselves and will allow states to strip bodily autonomy from people who can get pregnant. This is both an erasure of gender equality and provides sanction to domestic abusers using reproductive coercion to exert power and control over their victims. Homicide is the leading cause of death of pregnant women, and forcing a person to carry a pregnancy to term can cause physical, mental, and economic harm, as well as creating a legal bond between the victim and the perpetrator. This ruling will have a multitude of far-reaching, catastrophic impacts, but will fall hardest on survivors in historically marginalized communities who already face heightened risks of both intimate partner violence and poor health outcomes with pregnancy, including survivors of color, LGBTQ survivors and survivors of color, as well as low-income survivors, who can least afford to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term or support a child.
The ruling in Bruen not only established a new right to carry firearms in public, it also has the potential to undermine the very foundations of American gun laws. By prohibiting courts from considering whether there is a compelling public interest when ruling on gun laws, SCOTUS has hamstrung the ability of elected officials to protect Americans from gun violence. This ruling may pose a particular threat to laws prohibiting adjudicated domestic abusers from possessing firearms.
While we mourn, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence must also praise Congress for passing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which narrows the dating loophole (see previous statement here). This is a critical first step in disarming adjudicated dating abusers.
“The provisions narrowing the dating loophole in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act are an important public recognition by Congress that dating abusers pose the same existential threat to their victims as do abusive spouses,” says Ms. Glenn. “We look forward to continuing to work with Congress to fully close the dating loophole. We also look forward to working with the Biden Administration to ensure that it is implemented effectively.”