Author: Cillian Quinn
The U.S. Supreme Court effectively revoked the constitutional right to abortion on the 24th of June 2022. This back tracking to restrictive abortion policy puts the United States alongside Poland, El Salvador, and Nicaragua as the only countries to do so in in decades. ActionAid Ireland is deeply concerned that this decision will have a drastic impact not only on women, girls and those who can become pregnant in the United States but also as it sets a dangerous precedence for others to roll back previously fought rights.
Why we support access to abortion services globally?
ActionAid Ireland supports the rights of women, girls and those who can become pregnant around the world to claim their full range of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). We challenge practices that deny them control over their own bodies.
SRHR includes the right to make informed choices about whether or when people have children. It also includes the right to access a full range of affordable and informed family planning services, the right to accurate information and services to prevent and treat sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV and AIDS, and sexual health information and education.
Women, girls, and all those that can become pregnant must have control over their own bodies- this is central to achieving gender equality. Denying or limiting peoples sexual and reproductive rights has devastating consequences.
Around the world, many countries restrict access to safe, legal, affordable abortion, putting thousands of people’s lives at risk. Restricting or banning abortion does not stop abortions from happening. Recent studies estimate that 8–18% of maternal deaths worldwide are due to unsafe abortion in countries where it is banned, and the number of abortion-related deaths in 2014 ranged from 22,500 to 44,000.
Most of these deaths occur in the Global South, with the highest number in Africa. Allowing people access to information about SRHR, including modern contraception and safe abortion, would prevent unplanned pregnancies, STIs, and would save the lives of some of the poorest, most marginalized women and girls.
Why are we being vocal on the overturning of Roe vs Wade by the US Supreme Court
ActionAid Ireland see’s access to safe abortion as a human rights issue. Human rights law clearly indicates that decisions regarding your body are yours, known as, bodily autonomy. Forcing someone to carry on an unwanted pregnancy, or forcing them to seek out an unsafe abortion, is a violation of their human rights, including the rights to privacy and bodily autonomy. Therefore, as a human rights organisation, we stand in solidarity with women, girls and those who can become pregnant in the United States.
We are also deeply concerned of the repercussion the US decision could have on the lives of people across the world if reproductive rights are restricted globally. Approximately 60 countries since the 1990s have expanded policies or laws related to abortion access. Many countries across the world in the last few years alone have made great strides in decriminalizing abortion, such as South Korea, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Benin, the DRC, and Ireland.
We fear that the US decision could fuel anti-abortion movements, limit campaigns for abortion access, and disrupt politics related to women’s rights. This could set a precedent for countries who have made great strides in abortion access to reevaluate their position and rollback on progress made.
We believe that removing access to abortion services has implications that go further than just health, as it can also impact girls’, young women and people that can become pregnant rights and opportunities.
Our position is in line with a vast number of human rights organisations and committees including the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child who supports access to abortion and has urged states to “decriminalize abortion to ensure that girls have access to safe abortion and post-abortion services, review legislation with a view to guaranteeing the best interests of pregnant adolescents and ensure that their views are always heard and respected in abortion-related decisions.”