UN, world leaders condemn US Supreme Court ruling on abortion

by Barbara R. Abercrombie
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U.S. Supreme Court ruling was described as a “huge blow” to American women’s reproductive rights and gender equality.

International condemnation soon followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to lift constitutional protections for abortion in the landmark Roe v Wade ruling of 1973.

Friday’s controversial ruling means that about half of all U.S. states are ready to ban abortions.

The U.S. court’s decision was “a major setback,” and a “huge blow to women’s human rights and gender equality,” U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.

A spokesman for the U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said restricting access to abortion won’t stop people from having the procedure “it just makes it more deadly”.

“Sex and reproductive health and rights are the foundation of a life of choice, empowerment, and equality for women and girls worldwide,” Secretary-General’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Friday.

“Restricting access to abortion doesn’t stop people from having an abortion; it just makes it more deadly.”

World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he expected more from the United States regarding protecting women’s rights.

“I am very disappointed because women’s rights must be protected. And I expected America to protect such rights,” he said.

French and British leaders condemned the ruling as challenging women’s freedoms.

“Abortion is a fundamental right for all women. It must be protected,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter.

Abortion is a fundamental right for all women. It must be protected. I want to express my solidarity with the women whose freedoms are undermined by the United States Supreme Court.

— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) June 24, 2022

“I want to express my solidarity with the women whose freedoms are being undermined by the Supreme Court of the United States,” he said.

Supreme Court

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at a press conference: “I think it’s a big step backward…I’ve always believed in a woman’s right to choose, and I stand by that view, and that’s why the U.K. hits laws.”

The Canadian Prime Minister called the news “horrifying” and claimed: “No government, politician or man should tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body. I want women in Canada to know that we will always stand up for your right to choose.”

The news coming out of the United States is terrible. My heart goes out to the millions of American women on the brink of losing their legal right to abortion. I can’t imagine the fear and anger you feel right now.

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 24, 2022

Former President Donald Trump cemented the conservative majority in the Supreme Court by appointing three justices during his four-year term.

The Trump administration also pushed the United Nations against promoting women’s sexual and reproductive rights and health, seeing such work as a code for abortion.

Trump has cut funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) — the U.N.’s sexual and reproductive health agency — claiming it “supports or participates in a forced abortion or involuntary sterilization program.”

According to the U.N., that was an incorrect perception. Trump’s successor, President Joe Biden, has restored funding.

The UNFPA said that “as many as 45 percent of all abortions worldwide are unsafe, making it a leading cause of maternal death”.

Nearly half of all pregnancies worldwide are unintended, and more than 60 percent of those can end in abortion, according to the UNFPA.

The United States and 178 other countries supported a 1994 program that “recognized how deadly unsafe abortions are and urged all countries to provide post-abortion care to save lives, regardless of the legal status of abortion.” the organization said.

U.S. Supreme Court on Friday overturned constitutional protections for abortion in the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade ruling [Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters]

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