A Brief Overview of the Impact of Dobbs on LGBTQ+ Asylum Seekers

Blog by Jake Bennett, Junior Associate

The Supreme Court decided the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in June 2022, overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.[1] Many states immediately began to criminalize or severely restrict access to abortions after the Supreme Court issued their official ruling.[2] Minority groups such as LGBTQ+ asylum seekers have unfortunately had to bear the brunt of the Dobbs decision due to pre-existing discrimination concerning healthcare in the United States.[3] LGBTQ+ asylum seekers are a small but important group of minorities who have been adversely affected by Dobbs and have further had their pre-existing legal obstacles intensified in the wake of the decision.

LGBTQ+ asylum seekers encounter a myriad of challenges, from enduring abuse and discrimination in their home countries to facing violence and lengthy waits at the U.S.-Mexico border.[4] The asylum process itself is highly subjective, and individuals often struggle to prove their LGBTQ+ status because forced concealment in their countries of origin often results in a lack of official documentation due to fear of persecution.[5] Gender, a vital aspect of their identity, is currently not admissible as grounds for seeking asylum, further complicating their situation.[6]

Even for those asylum seekers who have been granted citizenship, individuals may continue to face barriers when it comes to reproductive healthcare. Many asylum-seekers settle in states that have severely restricted abortion access since Dobbs, such as Texas.[7] Further, abortion travel bans, which limit travel to safe and legal abortion services in specific states, disproportionally affect these individuals who may not have the resources to move to another state after being granted citizenship.[8]

Denial of reproductive rights undermines the promise of freedom and equality that the United States represents. It perpetuates a cycle of marginalization, reinforcing the notion that certain individuals, such as members of the LGBTQ+ community and immigrants, are not deserving of the same rights and privileges as others. This contradiction between the rights granted by citizenship and the restrictions imposed by abortion travel bans highlights the urgent need for legal and policy reforms.

[1] Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Org.,142 S. Ct. 2228 (2022).

[2] Tracking Abortion Bans Across the Country, N.Y. Tɪᴍᴇs, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/us/abortion-laws-roe-v-wade.html (last updated Nov. 7, 2023).

[3] Reggie Casanova-Perez et al., Broken Down by Bias: Healthcare Biases Experienced by BIPOC and LGBTQ+ Patients, 2021 AMIA Aɴɴ. Sʏᴍᴘ. Pʀᴏᴄ. Aʀᴄʜɪᴠᴇ 275, 282 (2021), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8861755/pdf/3576813.pdf.

[4] Ari Shaw et al., LGBT Asylum Claims in the United States, Tʜᴇ Wɪʟʟɪᴀᴍs Iɴsᴛ. 1, 4 (2021) https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Asylum-LGBT-Claims-Mar-2021.pdf.

[5] Id. at 2.

[6] Id. at 3.

[7] Nicole Ward & Jeanne Batalova, Refugees and Asylees in the United States, Mɪɢʀᴀᴛɪᴏɴ Pᴏʟ’ʏ Iɴsᴛɪᴛ. (Jun. 15, 2023), https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/refugees-and-asylees-united-states (last visited Nov. 7, 2023).

[8] Ryan Huynh, Dobbs Restricts Access to Abortion Services for Asylum Seekers, Represses Reproductive Rights, Hᴜᴍ. Rᴛs. Fɪʀsᴛ (Aug. 18, 2022), https://humanrightsfirst.org/library/dobbs-restricts-access-to-abortion-services-for-asylum-seekers-represses-reproductive-rights/.

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