The U.S. Supreme Court has, on June 24, voted to overturn Roe V Wade – a 1973 federal ruling that legalized access to safe and legal abortion.
In practice, this ruling will strip scores of people across the United States of their sexual and reproductive rights and put them in situations where their health and life could be at risk. It also endangers health providers and activists committed to delivering essential, and often life-saving, treatment and care.
“With this outrageous ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court has turned back the clock on human rights by decades. It is sending the dangerous message that people who can get pregnant do not have any rights over their bodies,” said Carolina Jiménez Sandoval, President at the Washington Office on Latin America.
“It also made clear that we cannot afford to take our rights for granted. Fighting for human rights is as essential as ever. We will continue to add our voice to that of scores of human rights organizations and activists who have been fighting for years for those rights to be respected and protected.”
Abortions take place every day across the world. In countries that do not provide full health and reproductive care, people are forced to resort to unsafe practices which can often prove lethal. This has led more than 50 countries to change their laws to allow for greater access to abortion in the last decade, including many in Latin America.
In February, Colombia’s constitutional court decriminalized abortion until the 24th week of pregnancy. Last year, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that a ban on abortion was unconstitutional. In late 2020, Argentina legalised abortion until the 14th week of gestation.
In the US, the right for people to decide if and when to have children has been recognized at the federal level since 1973. Reverting that right will do little more than force people in restrictive states to seek unsafe abortions or to travel elsewhere if they can afford to, which means the ruling will disproportionally affect people with fewer resources, often including people of color. It also opens the door for the Supreme Court to reverse other hard fought human rights.