Late last week, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to safeguard abortion access, providing protection against potential penalties that those seeking abortion may face if they travel across state lines for abortion services, protecting access to contraception, and taking steps to protect patient privacy.
At Erikson Institute, we applaud President Biden’s action as we are committed to creating an equitable and more just future for infants and their families across our clinical, academic, and policy programs. We know that child development and learning take place in the context of safe, secure, and loving relationships. As a community with a majority of female students, faculty, and staff, we are deeply concerned about the impact of the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on women’s rights, children’s rights, and basic human rights.
The relationship between a pregnant parent (e.g., mother) and child begins in utero and influences the entire trajectory of a child’s life. Healthy child development depends on the physical and emotional state of the pregnant parent. Every pregnant parent must determine for themselves, within their unique situation, whether or not they can bring a child into our world. We also know that children being forced to carry pregnancies because of rape as young as 10 (something President Biden mentioned in remarks last week) is antithetical to children’s rights, physical and mental health; it sponsors adverse childhood experiences, inflicts long-term trauma, and results in significant harms. Not only are their bodies not ready to carry a pregnancy, but their mental health is significantly compromised.
We can say with authority that a parent’s lack of choice in managing their pregnancy and body — even in cases where the parent’s life is threatened — takes away a basic human right. Human rights apply to everyone — to infants who deserve the best start in life, to their pregnant parents whose health and other circumstances determine that start, and to everyone who seeks to live their truth in a nation that promises everyone equality and justice.
Each of Erikson’s three strategic pillars informs our position. Our policy work seeks to create and sustain public systems of care and education that truly put babies and their families at the forefront and protect their human rights – including healthcare rights, voting rights, marriage rights, and others.
Our clinical work seeks to strengthen parent/child relationships across Illinois. We see the reality of families’ struggles and the physical and emotional damage that can result when parents are not able to give their babies what they need to develop into healthy, happy children and when children are forced to become parents.
Our online academic programs reach students across the nation. Some of these students live in states where their right to make decisions about their own bodies has been or may soon be abruptly revoked, damaging their emotional and physical well-being, and potentially interfering with their education and career paths.
Life is at the heart of everything Erikson supports. We value the deep interconnectedness between humans in families, in early childhood professions, and in public systems. Removing a child-bearing person’s right to choose how and when and where they create life is the antithesis of life-giving. It is an attack on child-bearing persons and their children and we commit ourselves to keep fighting back by nurturing, teaching, and advocating for everyone’s human rights.
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