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Advocate worries sexual violence will increase nationwide post-Roe

Alyssa M. Akers
U.S. Air Force

The reversal of Roe v. Wade has already triggered abortion bans throughout the country, including some states not recognizing exceptions for rape or incest. KUNM spoke with Alexandria Taylor, Deputy Secretary at the New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs about how the reversal will impact the increasing prevalence of sexual violence.

ALEXANDRIA TAYLOR: Many of us have never lived or worked in a world pre-Roe. And it means that this fight for justice, this fight to dismantle systems of oppression, and the protections that had been there, even the floor, right Roe was the floor, these protections have just been wiped away with the stroke of a pen.

And so we're deeply grieving right now. And we know that the impact that this will have on individuals and families, those who have been survivors of sexual violence and other forms of violence. And so it has in the moment just kind of taken our breath. But we know that our work has always been situated in organizing against these systems of oppression that allow for sexual violence to occur in our society.

KUNM: When it comes to reproductive justice, you all recognize it as being essential to both survivors rights and ending sexual violence. Can you walk me through how Roe v. Wade was a foundation and where we're headed post-Roe?

TAYLOR: So every day in our movement at our rape crisis centers, at our sexual assault nurse examiner programs, at our children's advocacy centers, we are working with people who have had their personal choice and autonomy taken away from them. Sexual violence strips people of the ability to make important life decisions for themselves. That is true for abortion bans, as well. And so we really view this from a holistic and comprehensive standpoint. It is the response to survivors after an assault, and it is also the roots of a society that takes away people's freedom and autonomy and choice over their own self agency. That is the root cause of sexual violence in a society where people's decisions for their lives are not respected. Those are the essential routes that allow for others to violate and control and seek power over other people's lives.

And so not only is it going to impact survivors who need access to care, health care, including abortion care after an assault, but we view the stripping away of Roe v. Wade as actually stripping away protective factors to the prevention of sexual violence to begin with.

KUNM: And speaking to the prevalence of sexual violence in our society. It's reported that about one in three women will face physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Are you concerned that with zero protections in some states that sexual violence will skyrocket?

TAYLOR: I'm concerned that sexual violence will increase in every state, including the states that have protections. Because the institution that we have now given the power to be the highest court in this country, has said, is that we can't trust birthing bodies to make the best decisions for their lives. We don't respect individual decisions about people's bodies and lives.

And so I think we should be curious and concerned about, culturally, the messaging that we are giving, culturally what we are saying is acceptable in this society. What is equality? What is justice when the highest court that has been instituted given this power in this land has said, “No, we don't think people should have the liberty to make the decisions for themselves.”

This coverage is made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners.

Taylor is a reporter with our Poverty and Public Health project. She is a lover of books and a proud dog mom. She's been published in Albuquerque The Magazine several times and enjoys writing about politics and travel.
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