I would like to draw your attention to the recent abortion debate in the US that has shaken the women’s rights movements and their struggle for sexual and reproductive health rights, particularly access to  safe and legal abortion.

A leaked Supreme Court draft ruling, published by Politico, is poised to strike down the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade judgement that guaranteed abortion rights to women for decades. It provided women with an absolute abortion right in the first three months and limited rights in the second trimester. It ruled that the constitution of the US protects pregnant women’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restrictions.

(on behalf of PHM’s Gender Justice and Health Thematic Group)

Stringent anti-abortion legal reforms have been seen in Oklahoma, Texas, Kentucky and others. Many republican states enact “heartbeat” abortion bans that prohibit abortions once fetal heartbeat is detected i.e. six weeks, when women are generally unaware of pregnancy, with no exemptions for rape or incest. 

Striking down Roe’s judgement will have a detrimental impact, globally, on women and young girls sexual and reproductive health and rights. With this millions of women and young girls particularly the marginalized, racialized, poor, immigrant women will lose access to safe and legal abortions. 

As we are aware, abortion continues to be criminalized in many countries feminists are fighting against extreme anti-abortion policies for many decades. There is a global movement of feminists demanding for safe and legal abortion services. The legalization of abortion in Argentina, Mexico and Colombia, is an inspiring illustration of the long struggle and victory of feminists and health activists in Latin America. With that inspiration we join other feminist movements, abortion rights groups, SRH networks, health movements to demand for safe, legal, affordable and quality abortions services for All. 

Roe v Wade has been instrumental in influencing several courts across the world on the aspects of individual rights and freedoms. Any attempt to strike down this jurisprudence has the potential to shake up the successes in recognition of individual rights be it bodily autonomy, privacy or reproductive rights.

(on behalf of PHM’s Gender Justice and Health Thematic Group)