Over the last few years, we’ve seen women’s rights specifically around bodily autonomy increasingly in the news. The United Nations defines bodily autonomy as a human right and as “[having] the power and agency to make choices over our bodies and futures, without violence or coercion.” Given that bodily autonomy is at the core of a woman’s basic rights to equality, privacy and bodily integrity, it is critical to understand what is at stake, how consumers feel about the issue and the implications it has for other basic human rights.
As we discuss the issue in this report, it is also important to flag that despite the media focus, bodily autonomy extends beyond abortion. For example, the right for trans people to make decisions about their bodies is a bodily autonomy right, as is the right for women to wear or not wear a hijab. It is also a bodily autonomy right for people with disabilities to make independent decisions about their lives.
As a larger conversation continues to take shape over how brands have — or should — take a stand on social issues, we sought to understand the impact that the overturning of Roe vs. Wade has had on people’s sentiments on bodily autonomy, the role that the media plays on the topic and the moral, financial and reputational risks that brands face by not taking a stand on this important issue.
We recognize the effects that the Dobbs vs. Jackson ruling will have on women and people with uteruses who are poor, Black, Indigenous and/or live in rural areas. The medical, financial and emotional turmoil that these communities will face in the years to come from forced birth are well-documented (Center for Reproductive Rights). This paper seeks to expand upon the impact to media and the responsibility of the private sector.