The U.S. Supreme Court ruling to overturn abortion rights is an attack on women’s fundamental human rights
Abortion bans do not reduce abortion numbers – they make them more unsafe. They increase the number of (especially poor) women, who die from unsafe abortion and unplanned pregnancy. In Africa, countries with restrictive abortion laws have higher numbers of maternal deaths directly resulting from restricted and unsafe abortions.
25 million unsafe abortions take place annually - representing nearly half (45%) of all abortions. Unsafe abortion remains one of the five leading causes of maternal mortality, hospitalising millions of women globally. The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate of any high-income country in the world, according to the Commonwealth Fund.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that of the 3.9 million girls in developing countries who will have an unsafe abortion this year, 10,600 will die, and for every death, 5 more will suffer life-changing injuries.
“This historic decision will cost lives and is a major setback for sexual and reproductive health. Our years of experience demonstrate that restricting or banning access to abortion only increases unsafe abortions that lead to life-threatening health conditions and increased maternal mortality rates”, says Options’ Managing Director James Harcourt.
While last week’s decision affects people in the U.S., reproductive rights are under attack everywhere. The ruling may increase negative sentiments about abortion in other parts of the world where women’s rights to choose are already denied or severely limited, and embolden those that seek to revisit abortion laws and impose further restrictions on women’s health. The decision could also drastically impact funding for sexual and reproductive health and rights internationally.
As a pro-choice organisation, we believe in a world where everyone can access the high-quality health services they need, without financial (or other) burden. We re-affirm our commitment to increasing access to sexual and reproductive health services for women, girls and the most marginalised.
We will continue to use evidence to inform policy debate and legal changes that create access to family planning and sexual and reproductive health access globally.
“While this attack on women’s right to control their own bodies, lives and future may strengthen the resolve of the anti-choice movements globally, it has also mobilised the international community to advocate for women’s right to choose. We must build on this momentum and continue to work with governments to provide and protect women’s access to safe and affordable abortion care”, says James Harcourt.